Handgun waiting periods reduce gun deaths

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Nov 14;114(46):12162-12165. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1619896114. Epub 2017 Oct 16.


Handgun waiting periods are laws that impose a delay between the initiation of a purchase and final acquisition of a firearm. We show that waiting periods, which create a "cooling off" period among buyers, significantly reduce the incidence of gun violence. We estimate the impact of waiting periods on gun deaths, exploiting all changes to state-level policies in the Unites States since 1970. We find that waiting periods reduce gun homicides by roughly 17%. We provide further support for the causal impact of waiting periods on homicides by exploiting a natural experiment resulting from a federal law in 1994 that imposed a temporary waiting period on a subset of states.

Keywords: gun policy; gun violence; injury prevention; waiting period.

MeSH terms

  • Firearms / economics
  • Firearms / ethics*
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data
  • Homicide / prevention & control*
  • Homicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical*
  • Social Control Policies / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data
  • Suicide Prevention*
  • Violence