Mixed Impact of Firearms Restrictions on Fatal Firearm Injuries in Males: A National Observational Study

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Mixed Impact of Firearms Restrictions on Fatal Firearm Injuries in Males: A National Observational Study

Category: Firearm Policies, Homicide, International, Men, Suicide, Unintentional|Journal: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (full text)|Author: A Leenaars, F Gjertsen, M Vollrath|Year: 2014

Introduction

Public health organizations have recommended restricted access and safe storage practices as means to reduce firearm injuries and deaths. We aimed to assess the effect of four firearm restrictions on firearm deaths in Norway 1969–2009.

Methods

All deaths due to firearm discharge were included (5,660 deaths, both sexes). The statistical analysis to assess impact of firearm legislations was restricted to males because of the sex disproportionality (94% were males).

Results

A total of 89% of firearm deaths (both sexes) were classified as suicide, 8% as homicide, and 3% as unintentional (accident). During the past four decades, male accidental firearm death rates were reduced significantly by 90%. Male firearms suicide rates increased from 1969 to 1991 by 166%, and decreased by 62% from 1991 to 2009. Despite the great reduction in male accidental firearm deaths, we were unable to demonstrate effects of the laws. In contrast, we found that a 1990 regulation, requiring a police permit before acquiring a shotgun, had a beneficial impact on suicide in the total sample and in those aged 15–34 years. Male firearm homicides decreased post-2003 regulation regarding storing home guard weapons in private homes.

Conclusions

Our findings suggest that two laws could have contributed to reduce male firearm mortality. It is, however, a challenge to measure the role of four firearm restrictions. The null findings are inconclusive, as they may reflect no true impact or study limitations.

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