Guest columnist Dr. Matteo Pangallo: Gun control does saves lives

By DR. MATTEO PANGALLO

Published: 01-08-2024 5:02 PM

In his Dec. 22 letter, ‘The fallacy of gun control,” William Aherin repeats without qualification certain assertions he made in a similar letter in June 2022 — namely, that gun control “doesn’t work.” As in the previous letter, the writer does not actually present evidence to this effect.

Indeed, this is because he cannot: the available evidence conclusively demonstrates the opposite, namely, that gun control measures reduce gun violence and save lives. An overview of the data showing how gun regulations reduce gun violence can be found in the May 26, 2022 issue of Scientific American (www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-science-is-clear-gun-control-saves-lives/).

But here are some of the other sources for reputable evidence to support implementing common-sense gun controls. A 2016 meta-study published in the journal Epidemiologic Reviews conglomerated evidence from 130 studies comparing 10 countries to show that implementing restrictions on gun purchasing and ownership tends to be followed by a drop in gun violence. Countries that have gun restrictions have far fewer incidents of gun violence than the United States, including our peer countries.

A clear data visualization showing how our country is an outlier in the world when it comes to gun violence can be found at www.healthdata.org/acting-data/gun-violence-united-states-outlier.

If one looks just at our own country, there is also ample evidence to show that gun regulations reduce gun violence. A 2018 study by the American Academic of Family Physicians (www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/gun-violence.html) shows that red flag laws, background checks, and other legal mechanisms to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals lead to a drop in gun violence.

According to that study, one of the most effective ways to reduce mass shootings is to ban assault weapons: from 1994 to 2004, when those weapons were banned, the number of gun massacres dropped compared to the previous decade; in the decade following the repeal of the ban, gun massacres increased three-fold.

Another study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018 (www.science.org/content/article/three-types-laws-could-reduce-gun-deaths-more-10) found that states with more and more sensible gun control laws had far fewer gun deaths than those without them. States that enacted measures to limit gun ownership or access to guns resulted in reductions of up to 11% in annual gun deaths when compared to other states.

This is confirmed by several studies undertaken at Stanford University (news.stanford.edu/2022/05/25/gun-violence/), which found clear evidence that, as one of the researchers, put it, “If you put more regulations on firearms, it does make a difference. It does end up saving children’s lives.” Or, to quote from another study published this year in USA Today, “lax laws fuel violence.”

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Policymakers and lawmakers should adopt laws and regulations predicated upon evidence, sound data, and careful study. They should avoid making decisions based merely on speculation, anecdotes, and vague generalizations. And all of the evidence we have on this subject indicates one common fact: Gun control measures reduce gun violence and save lives.

Dr. Matteo Pangallo lives in Shutesbury.