THURSDAY, June 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- A tough handgun licensing law may have reduced gun-related murders in Connecticut by nearly half, a new study suggests.
The 1995 law requires people to obtain a permit or license -- after passing a background check -- to buy a handgun. Prospective handgun purchasers must apply in person with local police, regardless of whether the seller is a licensed dealer or private seller.
The law also increased the minimum handgun purchasing age from 18 to 21, and requires prospective buyers to complete at least eight hours of approved handgun safety training.
In the 10 years after the law was introduced, the gun-related murder rate fell 40 percent. Murders committed by other means did not decline, according to the study published online June 11 in the American Journal of Public Health.
While the study found an association between the tough law and lower gun-related murder rates, it did not prove that one caused the other.
The study will be highlighted at a press conference hosted by Faiths United Against Gun Violence at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. on June 11.
"Permit-to-purchase laws, which require prospective handgun purchasers to first obtain a license from the police after passing a comprehensive background check, appear to reduce the availability of handguns to criminals and other people who are not legally permitted to buy guns," study author Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said in a Hopkins news release.
"Licensing handgun purchasers is a particularly effective way to achieve comprehensive background checks and keep people from buying guns for people who are not legally allowed to own them," he added.
In a previous study, Webster found that after Missouri repealed its handgun license law in 2007, there was a 25 percent rise in gun-related murders.
"Taken together, these studies provide compelling evidence that permit-to-purchase licensing systems is one of the most effective policies we have to reduce gun violence," Webster said.
Ten states and the District of Columbia have handgun licensing laws.
The U.S. National Institute of Justice has more about gun violence.