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Firearm licensing laws

Health Factors: Community Safety
Decision Makers: Local Government State Government Federal Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 100% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: No impact on disparities likely

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Description

Firearm licensing laws require individuals to obtain a permit to purchase a firearm or a license to own the firearm before purchasing. States can issue a license or permit only after a potential purchaser completes background checks; some states also require safety training, or knowledge and performance testing before granting a permit or license (LCPGV).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced homicide
Reduced suicide
Reduced gun trafficking

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that firearm licensing laws decrease firearm homicides and suicides (Crifasi 2015, Rudolph 2015).

Overall, states with permit-to-purchase laws have lower firearm suicide rates than states without such laws, and lower suicide rates following implementation of these laws (Crifasi 2015, Rudolph 2015, Kalesan 2016). Repealing such laws may increase firearm suicide and homicide rates (Santaella-Tenorio 2016, Crifasi 2015).

License to own and permit to purchase laws are both associated with reductions in firearm suicide rates (Anestis 2015) and gun trafficking (LCPGV, JHCGPR).

Implementation

United States

Federal law does not regulate licensing of firearms and prohibits the establishment of a federal handgun registration system (VPC). As of 2015, only seven states (California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York) allow local governments to enact gun laws; local governments in other states generally cannot enact gun laws due to state preemption legislation (Grassroots Change).

As of November 2015, New York requires a license to own handguns and Illinois and Massachusetts require a license to own any firearms. Ten states and Washington DC require a permit to purchase handguns or other firearms, and Nebraska requires a certificate for handgun purchase in some regions. Safety training or an exam is a prerequisite for a license or a permit in eight states (LCPGV, JHCGPR).

Wisconsin

As of March 2016, Wisconsin has no firearm licensing law (LCPGV).

Implementation Resources

Firearms research - Firearms Research. Prevalence, patterns, and prevention of firearm violence. Accessed on September 20, 2016
JHCGPR - Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (JHCGPR). Reducing gun-related injuries and deaths. Accessed on September 23, 2016
LCPGV - Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV). Because smart gun laws save lives. Accessed on September 20, 2016
US DOJ-ATF - US Department of Justice (US DOJ). Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Accessed on March 1, 2017

Citations - Description

LCPGV - Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV). Because smart gun laws save lives. Accessed on September 20, 2016

Citations - Evidence

Anestis 2015* - Anestis MD, Khazem LR, Law KC, et al. The association between state laws regulating handgun ownership and statewide suicide rates. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(10):2059-2067. Accessed on September 20, 2016
Crifasi 2015* - Crifasi CK, Meyers JS, Vernick JS, Webster DW. Effects of changes in permit-to-purchase handgun laws in Connecticut and Missouri on suicide rates. Preventive Medicine. 2015;79:43-49. Accessed on September 20, 2016
JHCGPR - Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (JHCGPR). Reducing gun-related injuries and deaths. Accessed on September 23, 2016
Kalesan 2016* - Kalesan B, Mobily ME, Keiser O, Fagan JA, Galea S. Firearm legislation and firearm mortality in the USA: A cross-sectional, state-level study. Lancet. 2016;387(10030):1847-1855. Accessed on September 23, 2016
LCPGV - Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV). Because smart gun laws save lives. Accessed on September 20, 2016
Rudolph 2015* - Rudolph KE, Stuart EA, Vernick JS, Webster DW. Association between Connecticut's permit-to-purchase handgun law and homicides. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(8):e49-e54. Accessed on September 20, 2016
Santaella-Tenorio 2016* - Santaella-Tenorio J, Cerda M, Villaveces A, Galea S. What do we know about the association between firearm legislation and firearm-related injuries? Epidemiologic Reviews. 2016;38(1):140-157. Accessed on October 5, 2016

Citations - Implementation

Grassroots Change - Grassroots Change. Connecting for better health. Accessed on February 13, 2017
JHCGPR - Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research (JHCGPR). Reducing gun-related injuries and deaths. Accessed on September 23, 2016
LCPGV - Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (LCPGV). Because smart gun laws save lives. Accessed on September 20, 2016
VPC - Violence Policy Center (VPC). Research, investigation, analysis, and advocacy for a safer America. Accessed on September 23, 2016

Page Last Updated

September 20, 2016

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