The purpose of the study is to understand the relationship between the quantity of firearm transfer and permit applications, the number of application denials and the unique characteristics of state requirements governing background checks. The specific goals of the proposed study were to test the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: The Firearm Transfer and Permit Application (FTPA) rate per 100,000 persons per state per year will increase over time (between 2005 and 2010) after controlling for demographic and other explanatory variables.
Hypothesis 2: The Denied Firearm Transfer and Permit Application (DFTPA) rate per 100,000 persons per state per year will increase over time (between 2005 and 2010) after controlling for demographic and other explanatory variables.
Hypothesis 3: Brady alternative states will have a lower FTPA rate than Brady states (between 2005 and 2010).
Hypothesis 4: Northeast states will have a lower FTPA rate than states in other regions (between 2005 and 2010).
Hypothesis 5: Universal background checks (whether for all firearms or for handguns only) are hypothesized to be associated with a lower FTPA rate and higher DFTPA rate (between 2005 and 2010) than states without such laws.
Hypothesis 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10: States that require fingerprinting (Hypothesis 6), safety training (Hypothesis 7), involve law enforcement in the background check process (Hypothesis 8), and allow for an extended check period (Hypothesis 9) will be associated with a lower FTPA rate (between 2005 and 2010) than states without such laws. States with bulk purchase laws (Hypothesis 10) will be associated with a lower FTPA rate (between 2005 and 2010) than states without this law.
Hypothesis 11: States with higher composite scores will be associated with a lower FTPA rate over time (between 2005 and 2010).
State and year demographics for all 50 states between 2005 and 2010 were calculated from the United States Census Bureau Fact Finder application. The violent crime rate per 100,000 people was calculated from the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Uniform Crime Report (UCR). The measure of firearm ownership, measured using the proportion of suicides committed with a firearm (FS/S), was derived using the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) mortality files. State and year-specific data for the total number of applications and denials data was obtained from two sources: the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Regional Justice Information Service (REJIS). State and year-specific federal denial data was obtained from the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (FBI NICS).
Several state characteristics were also collected. Geographic division of each state (Northeast, Middle Atlantic, South Atlantic, East South Central, West South Central, East North Central, West North Central, Mountain, and Pacific) was obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau. Whether states had adopted a background check system prior to the passage of the Brady Act (so-called Brady Alternative states) or whether states had adopted a check system as a result of the passage of the Act (so-called Brady States) was obtained from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) publication Pre-sale Handgun Checks (1996).
A composite index of state firearm transfer laws was also compiled using data obtained from the Survey of State Procedures Related to Firearm Sales series, Firearm Law Summary series, and in some cases state statutes. The measure examined the primary firearm transfer laws, specifically type of background check (e.g. universal, gun-show, etc) and acquisition restrictions (e.g. one-handgun-per month law). A total of 10 laws was examined for 2005 to 2010.
50 states and the District of Columbia between 2005 and 2010.
Firearms permit or transfer background check applications in 50 states between 2005 and 2010.
U.S. Census Bureau American Fact Finder
Bureau of Justice Statistics Firearm Inquiry Statistics (FIST) Program
Brady Campaign's and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence's annual scorecard
Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) database
National Instant Criminal Background Check System's (NICS)State Records Estimates Development and Validation Project
Don Manson and Gene Lauver, Presale Firearm Checks (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997)
Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Report
administrative records data,
program source code
The dataset distributed with this study contains 56 variables across 306 cases. The variables include information on the total number of firearm applications, the total number of firearm application denials, composite index of state firearm transfer laws, and criminal related state demographic variables.