Share This Page


Weakened Gun Laws Lead to More Homicides In Missouri


2/20/2014

The homicide rate in Missouri has gone up since 2007 when the state repealed its permit-to-purchase law, according to a new study by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. The Joyce-funded report examined crime and death certificate data and found that murders increased by 16 percent – that’s an estimated 55-63 additional deaths each year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012.
 
Before 2007, anyone who wanted to purchase a gun in Missouri had to pass a background check and receive a government-issued permit. The permit was only issued if an individual recently passed a background check. The 2007 repeal stripped away the permit requirement, which cleared the path for anyone to purchase a firearm from a private seller without a background check.
 
Researchers also found that, as the national murder rate decreased by 5 percent, Missouri’s firearm homicide rate went up by 23 percent. In fact, following the repeal of the state’s permit-to-purchase law, none of Missouri’s bordering states saw significant increases in homicides in the same time period.
 
These findings underscore the critical role background checks have in preventing gun violence. Research has shown that since its inception, the national background check system has blocked 1.9 million gun purchases by people legally prohibited from owning a gun.
 
“Because many perpetrators of homicide have backgrounds that would prohibit them from possessing firearms under federal law, they seek out private dealers to acquire their weapons,” Jon Vernick, deputy director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and one of the study’s authors, said. “Requiring a background check on all gun sales is a commonsense approach to reducing gun violence that does not infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.”
 
Earlier research from Johns Hopkins revealed that the 2007 repeal didn’t just raise the homicide rate - it coincided with an increase in gun trafficking within Missouri. The percentage of guns purchased in Missouri, used in a crime and later recovered by police in Missouri increased from 56.4 percent in 2006 to 71.8 percent in 2012.
 
While there have been few gains at the federal level to strengthen the nation’s gun laws, state lawmakers have made strides in requiring more background checks, improving the quality of data in the background check system, placing new limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and giving law enforcement new tools to combat gun trafficking. Still, only 15 states require handgun purchasers buying from private sellers to undergo a background check, which, as demonstrated in Missouri, can be effective in reducing the toll of gun violence.
 
Media Coverage

Our Research & Reports

Explore our research & reports across all of our program areas.

Learn more

For The Media

Explore our resources for members of the media. 

Learn more

Related Content

Blog

FEATURED

Investing in the Future of the Great Lakes Region

Read More

Press Release

FEATURED

Joyce Foundation to Focus Philanthropy on Policies Supporting Next Generation in Great Lakes Region, Advancing Racial Equity and Economic Mobility

Read More

Blog

FEATURED

The Joyce Foundation Awards $13 Million in Grants

Read More

View More