Study Suggests These 5 Gun Reforms Could Prevent Most Mass Shootings

The debate on reforming our nation’s gun laws inevitably rests between two arguments: one in favor of reducing the unparalleled level of violence our country sees (compared to other places around the globe), versus ensuring a person’s right to own weapons for self-defense remains preserved.

Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia

New research, however, sheds light on ways to prevent mass shootings from happening. These reforms, though opposed by individuals in the latter camp described above, would still allow ownership of guns among the general populace.

Data obtained from The Violence Project and organized by the Los Angeles Times reveals that five reforms specifically could result in significantly reducing the number of mass shootings in the U.S. Those reforms are:

  • banning straw purchases (and strengthening enforcement)
  • requiring safe storage of weapons when not in use
  • an assault weapons ban
  • background checks on every gun purchase
  • and “red flag” laws

The analysis admits there’s “no guarantee that these laws would be effective in stopping motivated killers from ultimately achieving their goal.” Still, these five reforms, taken together, could reduce the number of mass shootings seen each year, or at the very least make it more difficult for would-be assassins to achieve their violent means.

Indeed, in the best-case-scenario, had these reforms been in place since 1966, 87 percent of mass shootings from that time to the present could have been prevented, the analaysis shows.

The most effective reform studied was red flag laws, which allow loved ones, friends, or members of the community who are concerned that a person they know may act out to contact law enforcement to confiscate their weapons, usually with a court order.

Research on red flag laws over the years have found that it has been effective, with most who have been subjected to them displaying real signs of mental anguish, demonstrating to some that the move toward removing their weaponry was a justified act. One study found that those who had to adhere to a red flag order were 30 times more likely to be prone to suicide, The New York Times reported.

“It shows the law is being applied not willy-nilly, but to a group that is really at a high risk of dying,” Jeffrey Swanson, researcher at Duke University, said.

Featured image credit: Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia

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