Research Shows Gun Show Restrictions Don’t Prevent Crime or Suicides

Anti gun groups like to argue that gun shows and the private sale of gun is a “loophole” that leads to crime or suicide.  A recent study compared homicides and suicides in areas that restrict gun shows and areas which do not.  The result was that tighter regulation of gun shows does not reduce the number of firearm-related deaths:

A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland has found “no evidence that gun shows lead to substantial increases in either gun homicides or suicides. In addition, tighter regulation of gun shows does not appear to reduce the number of firearm-related deaths.” The study- “The Effect of Gun Shows on Gun-Related Deaths: Evidence from California and Texas ( compared gun deaths between 1994-2004 in two states with large numbers of gun shows annually: California, which has the greatest restrictions on gun shows, and Texas, which has none.

For years, anti-gunners have fallaciously misrepresented gun shows, characterizing them as totally unregulated arms bazaars. They would have the public believe that gun shows are scary, lawless, and dangerous to attend—something akin to visiting a shady, back-room arms market in a remote Pakistani village.

Not so, according to the California v. Texas study. It found “no evidence to suggest that gun shows increased the number of homicides in California,” and in Texas “there are approximately 16 fewer gun homicides resulting from the 200 gun shows in the average year.” That finding corresponds to the relative trends in the murder rates of the two states. According to the FBI, since 1991, when violent crime began declining nationally, California’s murder rate has declined 51 percent, while Texas’ rate has declined 61 percent.

And, while California requires a 10-day waiting period on all firearm sales and prohibits private transfers of firearms, whether at a gun show or in another setting, and Texas has no waiting period and does not prohibit private transfers, in 2007, California’s murder rate was four percent higher than Texas’, and it has been higher than Texas’ 12 out of the last 14 years.

Where suicides are concerned, the study found that in the average year in California, there are four additional gun suicides, but “an almost identical decline in the number of non-gun suicides, suggesting that gun shows influence the method but not the number of suicides.” By comparison, it found “no evidence of an effect on suicides” in Texas.

Anti-gunners will reject the study because it considers only those deaths that take place near gun shows, within four weeks of the shows being held. On the other hand, many hundreds of gun shows are held throughout both geographically large states and, as the study notes, “guns are durable and can be used many years in the future.” If shows were a primary source of guns for criminals, as gun control supporters erroneously claim, logic dictates that the evidence would be manifest in statewide crime data over a period of years.
Nearly half the states have imposed special restrictions on gun shows and private transactions, but the California v. Texas study provides evidence that they may want to go back to the drawing board and find some other way to clamp down on criminals besides imposing unnecessarily oppressive regulations on good citizens who are part of America’s gun show family.