There are more than 33,000 deaths from guns in the United States yearly. With little hope of legislation that satisfies both sides of the debate completely, people need to look towards smaller wins. One opportunity for reducing gun deaths comes from research in behavioral economics and psychology, which suggest that mandatory ‘waiting periods’ might be an effective policy tool. A waiting period is a mandatory delay between the purchase and delivery of a gun; and can range from as little as 2 to 7 days.
In a recent published study, Luca uses 45 years of data to explore the impact of “waiting period” laws on firearm-related homicides and suicides. Controlling for changing economic and demographic factors that may be correlated with higher levels of gun violence the authors find mandatory waiting periods confer a 17% reduction in gun homicides and a 6% reduction in gun suicides.
As the authors conclude, “expanding the waiting period policy to all other US states would prevent an additional 910 gun homicides per year without imposing any restrictions on who can own a gun.” While gun ownership remains a contentious issue a fairly simple policy change would quickly and easily save hundreds of lives a year.
The article, Handgun waiting periods reduce gun deaths, was co-authored by Deepak Malhotra and Christopher Poliquina.