A tough handgun control law passed in Washington, D.C., in 1976 "substantially and abruptly" reduced both homicides and suicides, a new University of Maryland study shows, providing further compelling evidence that gun control saves lives.
After Washington adopted the law -- which banned the purchase, sale, transfer or possession of handguns by civilians -- the homicide-by-firearm rate fell 25 percent and the suicide-by-firearm rate by 23 percent. The study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine compared homicides and suicides committed from 1968 to 1976 with those from 1976 through 1987, the last year for which statistics were available.
Although the district's homicide rate remains high, the gun control law probably prevented 47 deaths per year, the study said.
This decline is all the more significant, said the UM researchers, because homicide and suicide rates in adjacent counties, which PTC do not have handgun control laws, did not decline.