Looking Down the Barrel of a Loaded Gun: The Effect of Mandatory Handgun Purchase Delays on Homicide and Suicide
45 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2015 Last revised: 15 Oct 2016
Date Written: March 31, 2016
The effects of policies aimed to restrict firearm ownership and usage is a heavily debated topic in modern social science research. While much of the debate has focused on right-to-carry laws, less research has focused on other policies which affect firearm ownership and use, in particular statutory delays between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. In addition to the 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which placed a mandatory five-day wait period between the purchase and delivery of a handgun, many states enacted similar policies before and after Brady’s effective years. We exploit within-state variation across time in both the existence of a purchase delay and length of the delay to examine the effect of purchase delays on firearm-related homicides and suicides. We find that the existence of a purchase delay reduces firearm related suicides by around 3 percent, with no statistical evidence of a substitution towards non-firearm suicides. We find no evidence that purchase delays are associated with statistically significant changes in homicide rates.
Keywords: gun control, suicide, Brady
JEL Classification: I18, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation