State Firearm Laws and Rate of Assault-Related Firearm Death

Bradley Kawano, Suresh Agarwal, Vijay Krishnamoorthy, Karthik Raghunathan, Joseph S. Fernandez-Moure, Krista L. Haines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Studying firearm-related mortality is important to reduce preventable firearm death in the US. This study aims to determine the relationship between firearm laws and assault death with firearms. STUDY DESIGN: This ecologic study used public data from the CDC Wide-Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research on decedents age 18 years or older who died from assault with firearms between 2009 and 2018 in all 50 states and Washington, DC. The outcomes were the rate of mortality per 100,000 persons from assault death by firearm used. Exposures of interest included the presence of 7 state firearm laws extracted from the RAND State Firearm Law Database. Welch's t tests were performed to compare mean mortality rate in states with each firearm law to states without each law. RESULTS: There were 114,945 deaths from assault with firearms from 2009 to 2018. States with "stand your ground" laws had a higher assault mortality rate from all firearms and from other/unspecified firearms than states without stand your ground laws (p = 0.026; p = 0.023). States with background checks for private sales of handguns and long guns had a lower assault mortality rate from handguns and rifles, shotguns, and large firearms, respectively, than states without either law (p = 0.019; p = 0.030). CONCLUSIONS: Stand your ground laws are correlated with a higher rate of gun-related assault death, but background checks on private sales are correlated with a lower rate. Future studies should elucidate the specific pathways by which state laws reduce, or fail to reduce, firearm-related assault death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-418
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes


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