For the past 20 years, people in Connecticut have needed a permit to buy a handgun—and that's reduced gun violence in the state by up to 40%, according to a new study. Published in the American Journal of Health, the study looks at 1995 state legislation that requires gun buyers to apply for a permit in person with police before purchasing a handgun from a private seller or licensed dealer, the Huffington Post reports. The law also requires mandatory safety training and raised the minimum gun-buying age from 18 to 21. "Permit-to-purchase laws ... appear to reduce the availability of handguns to criminals and other people who are not legally permitted to buy guns," says study author Daniel Webster in a statement.
The study compares Connecticut's homicide rate to that of other states that lack such legislation but otherwise have similar gun regulations, like Maryland, California, and Rhode Island. Homicide rates also fell in control states during the mid-1990s, but tumbled further and faster in Connecticut, saving an extra 296 lives, the Independent reports. What's more, the law had no influence on homicides by other means, perhaps supporting the study's findings. The president of the Connecticut Citizens Defense League isn't buying it, saying that criminals often buy guns by illegal means. But Webster's earlier research shows that firearm homicide rates rose in Missouri after the state repealed its handgun license law in 2007.