Gun; Researcher study the Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health concludes that of the approaches use by states to screen out prohibit individuals from owning firearms, only purchaser licensing has been shown to reduce gun homicides and suicides. Purchaser licensing is currently use by nine states and Washington, D.C.

Gun safety training

Licensing differs from a standard background check in important ways, and the purpose of issuing this white paper and infographic is to clear up confusion about the efficacy of these laws, says the report’s lead author, Cassandra Crifasi, Ph.D., MPH, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management.

Comprehensive background checks are a necessary component of any system design; so to keep guns from prohibited persons; but they are insufficient to reduce firearm relate deaths without a complementary system of purchaser licensing. In general, states with licensing require prospective gun buyers; so to apply for a license with a state or local law enforcement agency, pass a background check; so often submit fingerprints, and, in some cases, show evidence of gun safety training.

States with licensing typically have more thorough processes for checking background; so allow law enforcement more time to conduct those checks, or have mandatory waiting periods. In contrast, the mandatory federal background law requires that a prospective buyer undergo a background check if they purchase a firearm; but only if they purchase it from a license dealer. Other key differences among the three approaches are highlight in the report’s companion infographic.

Impulsive decisions

These procedures may deter individuals who might otherwise make impulsive decisions to acquire a gun to hurt themselves or others. The white paper posits that one reason advocacy organizations have push policymakers to adopt comprehensive background checks (versus licensing) is because of their broad appeal: Polls consistently find that over 85 percent of U.S. adults support comprehensive background checks with no difference between gun owners and non-gun owners.

Yet, says Crifasi, national public opinon surveys also show that three quarters of adults support laws requiring handgun purchasers to obtain a license from a law enforcement agency, with support among gun owners at 60 percent. In addition to Washington, D.C., the nine states that have licensing requirements include Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and North Carolina.

In the 2018-2019 legislative session, gun purchasing licensing bills were introduce in Oregon, Delaware and Minnesota. Last year, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate introduce measures that would incentivize states to adopt handgun licensing laws.