Firearms References: Political, Legal, Historical, Statistical

A collection of reports, papers, articles, data sources, and various other links for quick reference. Wherever possible, sources have been verified and provided in context. The goal of listing these sources is to make it easier to get relevant information that can be used in discussion, and to compare both sides of various arguments. While I do try to provide some description of the information, how you use it is up to you. I constantly add to this page as various discussions arise, so check back and please feel free to send suggestions to be included.

You may link to this page, or use the originally cited links when sharing with others.

Sections on this page

Popular Gun Control Links
Commonly Cited Data Sources
Selected Firearms Legislation
Discussions on the 2nd Amendment
The CDC and Restrictions on Gun Research
Violence and Homicide
Sources of Crime Guns
Discussions and Studies Relating to Solutions
Articles Discussing Mass Shooters
General Reference, Definitions, Miscellany

Gun Ownership as a Risk of Homicide
The original 1993 Kellerman paper that lead to the Dickey Amendment.

APA History of Gun Violence Research
Good collection of information relating to the freeze on the CDC’s funding of gun control research.

More Guns Do Not Stop More Crimes, Evidence Shows – Scientific American
Discusses collections of reports attempting to analyze correlation and perception.

A Good Guy With a Gun? Refuting a Common Argument – Psychology Today
Editorial addressing common slogans from the gun lobby.

Right to Carry (RTC) States Experience Increase in Violent Crime – Stanford Law School
Article outlining John Donohue’s 2017 report.

How Often Do People Use Guns in Self Defense? – NPR
Brief overview of David Hemenway’s response to Gary Kleck’s DGU findings.

More Guns Won’t Prevent Mass Shootings – NBC
Overview and attempted fact-check of the NRA’s marketing claim.

The “Good Guy with a Gun Myth” – Harvard Review

Maintaining a Record of Gun Sales – Giffords Law Center
Argument in favor of a federal registry.

Universal Background Checks – Giffords Law Center
Argument in favor of universal background checks.

Rebutting ‘Criminals don’t follow laws’ argument against gun control – Armed With Reason
Addressing an apparent fallacy in stating ‘criminals don’t follow laws’ and ‘Gun control only hurts law-abiding citizens’ arguments made by gun rights advocates.


Selected Data Sources

Gun Violence Archive

Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 199-2013
Congressional Research Service Report.

Mother Jones US Mass Shootings Index
Spreadsheet of known mass shootings since 1982.
(Updated direct link to spreadsheet on Google Docs)

K-12 School Shooting Database


Selected Firearms Legislation and Reports

Gun Control Act of 1968 (Original Document here)

Firearms Owners Protection Act
Amended to the 1968 GCA, requires certain records but forbids a registry (18 USC Section 926).

Brady Bill – Requires background checks for handguns at retail, but not long guns or private sales.


Discussions on the 2nd Amendment

The First Amendment Guide to the Second Amendment – David Kopel
(SSRN Paper)

Congress Interprets the Second Amendment – Stephen P Halbrook

A Critical Guide to the 2nd Amendment – Glenn Harlan Reynolds

Guns and Public Health: Epidemic of Violence or Pandemic of Propaganda? – Kates, et al

The Second Amendment as Ordinary Constitutional Law – Glenn Harlan Reynolds


The CDC and Gun Research

Dickey Amendment (Wikipedia)
“None of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

Public Health Gun Control – Part 1 – Doctors For Responsible Gun Ownership (DRGO): A Brief History of the Topic; Kellerman’s 1993 Report

Public Health Gun Control – Part 2 – DRGO: History of the CDC’s role in gun control

Public Health Gun Control – Part 3 – DRGO: Influence of Anti-Gun Media on Policy and Medical Participation

Why Congress Stopped Gun Control Activism at the CDC – DRGO

Eisenhower Foundation on Violence


Violence and Homicide

US Overall Homicide Rate at 50-year Low
Summary: Gun sales climb while gun and overall homicide rates stay low. Talks about mass shootings being a special case deserving of separate study.

BJS Report on Firearm Violence, 1993-2011
Summary: Decline of about 40% in firearm violence from 1993 to 2011; 70% decline in nonfatal firearm crimes; less than 2% of state prison inmates got a gun at a flea market or gun show, but 40% from an illegal source.

There is No Uniquely American Homicide Rate
Summary: The US has too many distributions to make a meaningful comparison to other complete countries. Includes a breakdown of some Canadian territories.

Discussion of US Gun Homicide Rates Compared with Gun Control Laws and Other Countries
Summary: Difficulties in correlating number and type of gun control laws with gun violence rates due to definitions, reporting criteria, social and economic conditions, etc.

Violence Related to Ability to Manage Anger, Not Mental Illness
Summary: Violence comes from anger issues and not being able to manage them properly. Notes some statistics about prior records and predictors.


Sources of Crime Guns

Sources of Crime Guns in Chicago: Dirty Dealers, Straw Purchasers, and Traffickers
Summary: Only about 2% of crime guns in the area are purchased new from dealers. Roughly 60% are imported from other states. Most crime guns in the area are over 10 years old and have been transferred illegally many times. Time to Crime discussion and geographic sources of gang guns.

ATF 2017 Firearms Trace Data Report
Summary: In the given year, there were around 400k traces performed. Mean “time to crime” was 9.3 years. The linked data sets include state-by-state categories for traces by various actions, including certain crimes but also administrative checks. The number of traces is not directly related to crimes, only to requests by law enforcement in the course of investigation.


Discussions and Studies Relating to Solutions

Violence as Infection: An interventional approach
Summary: An epidemiologist studies violence expansion patterns in Chicago, and helps develop a strategy based on addressing human behavior rather than new laws. The system works by crafting responses and teams that are specific to the local environment, and applying transmission interruption techniques in a similar manner to disease control. Successes have been seen in homicide reduction overall, between 40% and 65%, not just gun homicide.

Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence (National Academies Press, 2015)
Summary: This study was sponsored and partially funded by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), directing various agencies to “…develop a potential research agenda focusing on the public health aspects of firearm-related violence; its causes, approaches to interventions that could prevent it, and strategies to minimize its health burden.” The study concludes that major contributors to overall gun violence include incidental crime cultures stemming from low education and low income, both in fact and by restricted opportunity.

Missing the Mark: Gun Control is Not the Cure for What Ails the US Mental Health System
Summary: Current systems do not support the needs of at-risk patients and only makes the stigmatization worse. Provides for suggestions on education, treatment, early intervention, and reporting enhancements.

The Current and Future State of Gun Policy in the US
Summary: Provides historical descriptions of precedent at federal and state levels both in legislative and social context. Also provides goals and distinctions between regulation for its own sake and regulation for a useful social benefit. Suggests areas of interest and describes various approaches, then ends with discussion on likelihood of change.

Forward: The Past and Future of Guns
Summary: Essay on considering the net effects of various regulatory proposals in context of both social benefit and civil rights protection. Proposes that some more popular changes may have little to no measurable effects, and that solutions should be examined in this balance.

Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms (NIJ, 1997)
Summary: (includes estimate of Defensive Gun Use as 1.7M or more in 1997).

Firearms Use by Offenders (BJS, 2002)

40% of Firearms Are Sold Without a Background Check (Politifact, 2012)
Summary: If there are over 15 million sales in a year, 40% would be roughly 6 million unlicensed sales. But criminal gun deaths are about 10,000 or fewer. So…
(UPDATE! New information suggests that fewer than 20% of gun sales skip background checks – I’m looking for a good, authoritative source as of May 2018)

Did the Assault Weapons Ban Work?
Summary: any benefits from reducing AW events was offset by substituted guns; 10-rd events accounted for fewer than 4-5% of shooting events (magazine bans have no effect); term of study too short; at best may see a 4-5% overall drop in shootings, but unlikely.

Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?
Summary: Discussion of various social factors that contribute to homicide and suicide rates, and comparison of those factors to prevalence of gun ownership or possession. The overall report notes that conclusions are highly sensitive to how you produce, define, and compare the data, and that both positive and negative correlations are possible based on careful selection. Overall, however, there is no compelling causation between density of guns and rates of violence.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders Intended to Prevent Mass Shootings: A Case Series
Wintemute, Pear, Shleimer, Pallin, Sohl, Kravitz-Wirtz, Tomisch (2019)
Summary: Reviews California’s GVPO (Gun Violence Protection Order), which is their version of ERPOs; Isolates 21 cases where “mass shooting” was the indicated concern, out of 414 requested cases; Notes demographic breakdown; “It is impossible to know whether violence would have occurred had ERPOs not been issued, and the authors make no claim of a causal relationship.”

Effects of Risk-Based Firearm Seizure Laws in Connecticut and Indiana on Suicide Rates, 1981-2015
Kivisto, Phalen (2018)
Summary: Tries to evaluate effectiveness of ERPOs on suicide rates in two states; finds 14% reduction firearms suicides in Ct, but that is offset by a net increase in overall suicides, suggesting replacement effect (also discloses that their result is nearly 80% higher than other estimates, and is probably higher than the true value); Indiana shows a potential 1.6% drop in firearm suicides, but that is within the normal fluctuation of the state’s suicide rates, and trends with the national average; study uses synthetic controls to estimate expected trend lines, and appropriately applies root mean square prediction errors to evaluate degree of fit. The method in this study appears solid, but the paper leaves out key discussions on width of error and substitution effects because it does not analyze actual case results where an ERPO subject then kills themselves.


Articles Discussing Mass Shooters

Top 10 Myths About Mass Shootings
Summary: James Alan Fox dispels some common myths.

School Shootings are not an Epidemic (NPR)
Summary: Despite fears, the rate isn’t really changing, but the visibility is.

Schools are Safer Than They Were in the 90s (Northeastern University)
Summary: Criminologist reviews data sets and presents trends.

Deadliest Mass Shootings Fast Facts (CNN)
Summary: Curated list of high profile mass shootings with brief descriptions.

Mass Shooters Want to Die (Washington Post)
Summary: How mass shooters may think about their planned killings and suicide. Includes stats on how many die by what means.

Possible Link Between Mass Shooters and Suicide (Psychology Today)
Summary: Dr Bonn examines similar causal conditions between the two phenomena

How is a Mass Shooting defined?
Summary: Politifact analysis of the difference in claims based on definitions used.


General Reference, Definitions, Miscellany

Army comments on definition of “Assault Rifle”

Military Dictionary

CNN Article on Five Facts about Gun Ownership
Summary: Gun ownership rates unknown; no trending change in ownership; most gun owners have multiple guns; political orientation is weakly correlated.

Don’t Call it Gun Control – an article about changing language to manipulate perceptions.

Gun Violence Messaging Guide (Download) – PDF demonstrating an attempt to manage perceptions by intentional use of manipulative language and discussions.

Records Retention by FFLs 27 CFR 478.129 – 20 years for form 4473 if the sale is completed, five years if it is not.

NICS requirements on FFLs 18 U.S. Code 922 (t) – Establishes that FFLs must use NICS to transfer firearms. (s)