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Do Gun Buybacks Save Lives? Evidence From Panel Data

NCJ Number
American Law and Economics Review Volume: 12 Issue: 2 Dated: August 2010 Pages: 509-557
Andrew Leigh; Christine Neill
Date Published
August 2010
49 pages
This study examined the rate of firearms deaths in Australian States where gun buyback programs were implemented.
This paper provides evidence that reduced access to firearms lowers firearm death rates and may also lower overall death by suicide and homicide. Results show that the withdrawal of 3,500 guns per 100,000 individuals reduced the firearm suicide rate by close to 80 percent and had no statistically significant effect on non-firearm death rates; estimates of the effect on firearm homicides suggest that the firearm homicide rate also dropped by a substantial proportion. These results are robust to the inclusion of Australian State-specific controls and time trends, to allowing for breaks in the Australian State-specific time trends, to flexible modeling of the dynamic impact of the National Firearms Act, and to using instrumental variables techniques to allow for potential endogeneity in the Australian State-level gun buyback rate. Topic discussed include: the international evidence on firearm availability and violent deaths, as well as some of the methodological issues involved in estimating this relationship; the institutional details of the Australian firearms buyback and shows national-level trends; and the cross- Australian State empirical strategy and results. Tables, figures, and references