A Tale of Two States: Texas v. California Firearm Mortality, Legislation, and Policies to Reduce Firearm-Related Violence in the United States
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Ninety Americans die every day due to gun violence. This violence is a public health burden resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths every year. The age-adjusted firearm mortality rate per 100,000 from 2000-2015 ranges from 10.14-11.01 and is trending up. States address gun violence differently, either by strengthening or deregulating existing firearm legislation. In Texas, the legislature passed an open carry law, enacted on January 1, 2016. Conversely, California has stricter firearm legislation and no open carry. These differences prompted the comparison of Texas and California gun laws following the methods of Kalesan et al. I reviewed the literature and evaluated firearm legislation comparing gun laws and firearm-related mortality rates. The goal was to propose evidence-based recommendations aimed at reducing gun-related mortality. There was an association between stronger gun legislation and lower firearm-related mortality. The most supported and effective legislation for reducing gun-related deaths is expanding universal background checks to private sales to keep guns away from criminals, domestic abusers, and severely mentally ill people. This paper is focusing on three impact areas to address gun violence: research, legislation, and public health campaigns. First, removing Dickey restrictions on CDC and NIH budgets to fund gun violence research. Second, legislating universal background checks to stop unauthorized people from buying guns. Finally, creating public health campaigns targeting the gun culture, social and mental health issues to address gun violence.