Murder Rate Rose 16% after Missouri Repealed Background Checks for Gun Purchases

Monday, February 24, 2014
Prospective weapons buyers at a gun show (photo: M. Glasgow, Wikipedia)

The repeal of Missouri’s law requiring a background check for all handgun purchases contributed to a 16% increase in murders in that state, according to a recent study.


The study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and to be published in the Journal of Urban Health, found there were 55 to 63 more murders each year from 2008 to 2012 than the projected rates for those years had the law not been repealed.


“This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence,” said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and the study’s lead author. “There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.”


The increase of the murder rate was seen only in those committed with firearms and wasn’t seen in states that border Missouri or in the nation at large. However, those border states that retained requirements for background checks did see an increase in firearms recovered that came from Missouri.


The U.S. Senate last year was unable to pass a law that would have required background checks for all gun purchases, despite a survey that showed 89% of Americans and 84% of gun owners favored such legislation. Currently, background checks are required when guns are sold by a licensed gun dealer, but not in private transactions.


“Because many perpetrators of homicide have backgrounds that would prohibit them from possessing firearms under federal law, they seek out private sellers to acquire their weapons,” said Jon Vernick, deputy director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. “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.”

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Effects of Missouri’s Repeal of Its Handgun Purchaser Licensing Law on Homicides (by Daniel Webster, Cassandra Kercher Crifasi, and Jon Vernick, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) (pdf)

Repeal of Missouri's Background Check Law Associated with Increase in State's Murders (by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health)

Gun Industry Doesn’t Need a Majority to Stop Background Checks and “Straw” Purchases (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Would Gun Background Checks Clash with Health Privacy Laws? (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)


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