BOSTON, March 6 (UPI) -- States with higher numbers of firearm laws were associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities from suicides and homicides, U.S. researchers said.
Dr. Eric W. Fleegler of Boston Children's Hospital and colleagues analyzed firearm-related deaths reported from 2007-10.
They also examined state-level firearm legislation across five categories of laws to create a "legislative strength score." The study authors used statistical analysis to measure the association of that score with mortality rates.
"In an analysis of all states using data from 2007 through 2010, we found that a higher number of firearm laws in a state was associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state," Fleegler said in a statement. "It is important to note that our study was ecological and cross-sectional and could not determine cause-and-effect relationship."
Over the four-year period of the study, the authors noted there were 121,084 firearm fatalities or about 30,000 a year.
The study, published online in Internal Medicine, found average state-based firearm fatality rates varied from a high of 17.9 per 100,000 individuals per year in Louisiana to a low of 2.9 in Hawaii per 100,000. Annual firearm legislative strength scores ranged from zero in Utah to 24 Massachusetts of 28 possible points, the study said.
The study also found the states with the highest legislative strength scores -- greater than or equal to 9 -- had a lower overall firearm fatality rate than those with the lowest scores, or less than or equal to 2, for an absolute rate difference of 6.64 deaths per 100,000 individuals per year.