Using synthetic control methods in gun policy research: concealed carry laws and suicide mortality (306462)*Alexander D. McCourt, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Keywords: gun policy, synthetic control methods, suicide, law
The Synthetic Control Method (SCM) is an increasingly popular method for evaluating the relationships between state firearm policy and firearm-related mortality. SCM provides a more accurate estimate of the counterfactual than other methods often used by gun policy researchers. This study used SCM to evaluate the relationship between state laws governing the public carrying of concealed firearms and state-level suicide mortality. Firearms and suicide are intimately linked. Research has shown that exposure to firearms increases the risk for death by suicide. Concealed carry has been increasingly deregulated over the past 20 years. Fewer states are requiring permits to carry a concealed weapon and more states are relaxing their permitting standards. This study evaluated whether the state laws driving this deregulation are associated with suicide mortality, finding that the weakest laws — those allowing permitless concealed carry — may be associated with increases in firearm suicide mortality. Additional years of suicide data are needed to further explore this relationship. This study also found that state laws requiring safety training prior to permitting may be protective.