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New Research: States with Background Checks Experience Fewer Mass Shootings

States that Have Closed Background Check Loophole Saw 52 Percent Fewer Mass Shootings Between January 2009 and July 2015 than States that Did Not

NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund today released new research showing that, controlling for population, states that require background checks for all handgun sales experienced 52 percent fewer mass shootings between January 2009 and July 2015 than states that do not require background checks for all handgun sales. The research employs the FBI’s widely-used definition of mass shooting in which four or more people are murdered with guns.

Among the findings included in Everytown’s latest mass shootings analysis:


  • Between January 2009 and July 2015 there were 133 mass shootings.
  • There were 37 mass shootings in states where background checks were required for all handgun sales and 96 mass shootings in states where background checks are not required.
  • Nearly 40 percent of the 133 incidents were perpetrated by assailants who were prohibited by federal law from possessing guns.
  • States that require background checks on all handgun sales experienced 63 percent fewer mass shootings committed by people prohibited from possessing firearms and 64 percent fewer domestic violence mass shootings.

    “This is just the latest piece of evidence that Americans are safer from gun violence in states where a handgun buyer must pass a criminal background check before buying the firearm,” said Everytown for Gun Safety Research Director Ted Alcorn. “We already know that closing the loophole that allows guns to be sold without background checks online and at gun shows is essential for reducing gun violence. In addition to seeing fewer mass shootings, the states that have closed this loophole see 46 percent fewer women shot and killed by intimate partners and 48 percent fewer law enforcement officers killed with handguns.”

    Previous Everytown research has shown that domestic violence plays an important role in the majority of mass shootings. Fifty-seven percent of mass shootings between January 2009 and July 2015 were incidents in which the shooter killed a current or former partner or family member. More detailed information about Everytown’s research on background checks can be found at http://everytownresearch.org.

    Eighteen states have closed the loophole that allows guns to be sold without background checks online and at gun shows and two states – Nevada and Maine – will vote on ballot initiatives to close this loophole in November 2016.