Restrictive firearm legislation is not associated with a decrease of law enforcement-related deaths (LED) among Black Americans, according to a new article published in Injury Prevention.

The study was led by Josie Sivaraman, a UNC Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC) Fellow and doctoral student at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health Department of Epidemiology, Dr. Stephen Marshall, Director of the UNC IPRC, and Dr. Shabbar Ranapurwala, core faculty at the UNC IPRC and Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology.

They investigated whether the relationship between state firearm legislation and LED was modified by race. They used data from 16 states from the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), which reports death by “legal intervention” (also known as LED). They then identified state legislative provisions from the State Firearm Law Database, a publicly available catalogue of 133 state-level legislative firearm provision.

Researchers found that, while states with more restrictive firearm laws had lower rates of LED, this protective effect was only present for non-Black Americans. The rate of LED for Black-Americans may actually be higher in states with more restrictive legislative provisions.

One possible explanation for this phenomenon is the role that implicit and explicit bias play in LED. The influence of race as a risk factor for LED is so strong for Black-Americans that it essentially nullifies the impact of firearm legislation as experienced by non-Black Americans.

Additional strategies are much-needed to reduce police use of lethal force against Black Americans.

Access the article abstract here.