Behavioral Sciences & the Law

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Volume 37 Issue 3 (May 2019), Pages 211-328

Firearm legislation and statewide suicide rates: The moderating role of household firearm ownership levels (pages 270-280)

Firearm legislation is associated with statewide suicide rates; however, prior research has often relied upon older data and categorical legislative grades while also failing to consider the nuanced role of firearm ownership. Therefore, the robust literature base on legislation and suicide has not directly examined regarding the extent to which the value of legislation hinges upon the rate of firearm ownership in a given state. The current study examined 2015 US statewide firearm legislation strength scores from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and 2016 statewide suicide rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Firearm legislation strength was inversely associated with statewide overall and firearm suicide rates, but not with non‐firearm suicide rates. Firearm ownership rates moderated the association between firearm legislation strength and statewide overall suicide rates. Specifically, firearm legislation strength was inversely associated with statewide overall suicide rates at mean and high levels of firearm ownership. Findings support the potential utility of firearm legislation as part of a national effort to decrease US suicide deaths, particularly in areas with higher firearm ownership rates.

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