Gun shows in Nevada were associated with more firearm related violence in nearby California. Whereas gun shows in California did not correlate with increased gun violence locally. Authors concluded that this may have been due to stricter gun laws in California.
Why does this matter?
The US has had several mass shootings and has a high rate of gun violence. The second amendment of the US Constitution has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to guarantee personal firearm ownership and has been a polarizing topic. Some want stricter gun laws to reduce violence. Some say that when gun laws are made stricter that only criminals can obtain guns illegally, and people of good will are restricted from having them. One thing we agree on is that gun violence is tragic and preventable.
“I wish they all could be California [guns]” Beach Boys
This study measured firearm injuries in the 2 week period following gun shows in Nevada (NV) and gun shows in California (CA). They found that there was an increase in firearm related injuries in areas of CA within driving distance of NV in the 2 weeks after NV gun shows. But they did not see an increase in firearm related injuries in the 2 weeks after gun shows held in CA. This was not driven by an increase in accidental or self-inflicted injury, rather it was an increase in interpersonal violence. Gun laws differ in CA vs NV. CA has the most restrictive laws of any state, with a comprehensive set of rules for gun shows, including a background check. Here is some of the law explained, “all firearms purchases and transfers, including private party transactions and sales at gun shows, must be made through a California licensed dealer under the Dealer’s Record of Sale (DROS) process. California law imposes a 10-day waiting period before a firearm can be released to a purchaser or transferee.” Its neighbor, NV, has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the US, with gun shows virtually unrestricted. This study found that locally, when guns were sold with little restriction, that more people were harmed by gun violence. Of course, the study has limitations and is unable to prove causation, but the association remained significant despite rigorous sensitivity analyses. It appears that simply applying gun laws equally in all situations could make an impact on gun violence.
In-State and Interstate Associations Between Gun Shows and Firearm Deaths and Injuries: A Quasi-experimental Study. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Dec 19;167(12):837-844. doi: 10.7326/M17-1792. Epub 2017 Nov 7.
Peer reviewed by Thomas Davis, MD.