A comparison and analysis of seven gun law permissiveness scales

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A comparison and analysis of seven gun law permissiveness scales

Category: Firearm Policies|Journal: Injury Epidemiology (full text)|Author: C Branas, C Morrison, K Rudolph, M Goyal, P Reeping|Year: 2021


Due to the differences in the way gun law permissiveness scales were created and speculation about the politically motivated underpinnings of the various scales, there have been questions about their reliability.


We compared seven gun law permissiveness scales, varying by type and sources, for an enhanced understanding of the extent to which choice of a gun law permissiveness scale could affect studies related to gun violence outcomes in the United States. Specifically, we evaluated seven different scales: two rankings, two counts, and three scores, arising from a range of sources. We calculated Spearman correlation coefficients for each pair of scales compared. Cronbach’s standardized alpha and Guttman’s lambda were calculated to evaluate the relative reliability of the scales, and we re-calculated Cronbach’s alpha after systematically omitting each scale to assess whether the omitted scale contributed to lower internal consistency between scales. Factor analysis was used to determine single factor loadings and estimates. We also assessed associations between permissiveness of gun laws and total firearm deaths and suicides in multivariable regression analyses.


All pairs of scales were highly correlated (average Spearman’s correlation coefficient r = 0.77) and had high relative reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.968, Guttman’s lambda = 0.975). All scales load onto a single factor. The choice of scale did not meaningfully change the parameter estimates for the associations between permissiveness of gun laws and gun deaths and suicides.


Gun law permissiveness scales are highly correlated despite any perceived political agenda, and the choice of gun law permissiveness scale has little effect on study conclusions related to gun violence outcomes.

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