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A Drastically Altered Landscape: How Recent Policy Developments May Affect Gun Violence Rates

Washington DC — Today, Giffords Law Center released a new memo, “A Drastically Altered Landscape: How Recent Policy Developments May Affect Gun Violence Rates.” The report examines what’s next after the radical New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen  decision from the Supreme Court and the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, as well as other recent policy changes at the state and federal levels. 

Kelly Drane, Giffords Law Center Research Director and Memo Author:

“The landscape of gun violence prevention laws in the US has shifted rapidly in the last few weeks, with important strides in passing the kinds of gun safety laws we need to protect public safety alongside a disturbing broadening of gun rights that will lead to more crime and violence. We will need good research and data in the coming years to fully understand the impact these policy changes will have on our country, but we also must remember that even with these changes, there is still much more that can be done to build on the policy progress, counteract recent setbacks, and protect our communities from gun violence.”

The memo analyzes some factors that may contribute to increased gun violence, and those that may ameliorate it. It examines federal, state, and legal actions that are being taken across the country. Identifying the effects of these actions will take time and will require controlling for other phenomena that affect rates of gun violence. One study of state firearm laws, for example, indicates that it takes an average of seven years for states to see a reduction in firearm homicide risk following the enactment of gun safety laws. 

There are numerous factors that will influence gun violence rates in the coming years. The dichotomy of having groundbreaking new legislation signed into law while also seeing a  Supreme Court decision that will make some state laws weaker ushers in a new era of gun violence and gun violence prevention for the United States. At this moment, it isn’t possible to predict the net result of these changes, particularly given the other dynamics that will both increase and decrease risk for gun violence. In the coming years, we must rely on researchers to parse the evidence and data and determine how these policies, in combination, have modified the risk for gun violence.

It is important to remember, however, that gun violence rates in the next few years need not only be determined by the policy changes that have already happened. Although the recent federal legislation was a critical first step in making communities safer, we know that there are a number of additional steps that need to be taken to fully address this crisis including:

  • Promoting and investing in community violence intervention programs
  • Passing laws like universal background checks and extreme risk laws
  • Banning assault weapons

The full memo can be found here


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