Listen Live


MUNCIE, Ind. — A new study says states that have laws enforcing a delay period before someone who buys a handgun can actually receive it have lower suicide rates.

Research conducted by Ball State economics professor Erik Nesson and others found that a delay period for gun purchases reduces the rate of suicide by about 3{ba4334a74bbef6a44d90ac7188ef6678678830ac397ff08e8fd015d0f018178a}.

That translates to about 600 deaths each year, nationwide, according to Nesson.

“A lot of suicides are fairly impulsive,” Nesson said. “A lot of research in other areas has shown that you can prevent a lot of suicides through very small changes that make it a little more difficult for someone to commit suicide.”

Nesson said these small changes could be anything from making pill bottles harder to open to prevent someone from killing themselves through an overdose to putting up more fencing on bridges to keep people from jumping off them.

He added a gun purchase waiting period would do the same thing. 

If someone has to wait a couple of days to receive a gun they’ve purchased, their suicidal state may have passed by the time they finally get the firearm, Nesson said.

Nesson acknowledges that the findings could be unpopular with Second Amendment advocates who disagree with the idea of waiting periods.

“Firearms are a contentious and polarizing topic in American culture,” he said. “What we show here is that any delay policy associated with the purchase of a handgun can help to mitigate some of the negative externalities of gun ownership, specifically suicide.”

Right now only 11 states have such a law where a gun buyer has to wait until they can’t actually take possession of a gun, which is down from 16 states in 1990. Indiana does not have any law enforcing a waiting period after purchasing a firearm.

(PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images)