The following report and online research tools were published by Rand on March 2, 2018.
RAND’s Gun Policy in America initiative provides information on what scientific research can tell us about the effects of gun laws. Our goal is to establish a shared set of facts that will improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.
We analyzed thousands of studies to examine the effects of gun policies on defensive gun use, hunting participation, suicide rates, and other outcomes. We also evaluated the views of gun policy experts who have opposing perspectives on the likely effects of gun laws to understand where disagreements exist and where compromise might be possible.
By exploring this project, you can view summaries of our key findings, delve into our analysis of the existing evidence base, learn how the experts think policies would affect outcomes, download our historical database of state gun laws, and access the supporting research reports.
Selected Initiative Resources
Research Report: The Science of Gun Policy: A Critical Synthesis of Research Evidence on the Effects of Gun Policies in the United States ||| Research Review Methodology
Key Findings and Download Ebook (412 pages; PDF; Free)
Americans are often divided on how to improve gun policies. Our research suggests that, among gun policy experts, these divisions are not primarily due to disagreements about what policies should achieve. Instead, the experts disagree on what the real effects of gun policies will be. This project seeks to clarify what is known and where new information could help build consensus about how to improve U.S. gun policies.
The primary focus of our analysis was the systematic review of 13 broad classes of gun policies that have been implemented in some states and the effects of those policies on eight outcomes. We produced research syntheses that describe the quality and findings of the best available scientific evidence. Each synthesis presents and rates the available evidence and describes what conclusions, if any, can be drawn about the policy’s effects on outcomes. In many cases, we were unable to identify any research that met our inclusion criteria (which required a study to provide minimally persuasive evidence for a policy’s effects).
Part of the RAND Gun Policy in America initiative, this tool allows users to explore how outcomes would change in each state and nationally if different combinations of gun policies were enacted or repealed nationwide. The results, based on the responses from a survey of gun policy experts, can also illustrate the trade-offs created when a group of policies improves one set of outcomes but undermines others.
Additional Research Materials
Part of RAND’s Gun Policy in America initiative, the RAND State Firearm Law Database is a longitudinal data set of state firearm laws that is free to the public to support improved analysis and understanding of the effects of various laws.