# First mathematical analysis of gun policy tradeoff emphasizes need for more data

Posted August 20, 2013

First mathematical analysis of gun policy tradeoff emphasizes need for more data
The first mathematical analysis of the gun policy tradeoff makes several assumptions due to a need for more scientific data.

While many people have already taken a stance on whether gun control laws need to be stricter or more lenient, a pair of researchers from the University of California Irvine argues that there isn’t yet enough scientific data to make an informed policy decision either way.

Dominik Wodarz and Natalia Komarova, both from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Department of Mathematics at the University of California Irvine, have developed the first mathematical analysis of the gun availability tradeoff. Their paper is published in PLOS ONE.

With 11,000 gun-related homicides occurring each year in the US, the gun policy tradeoff has been the subject of many recent arguments. While a strict “no guns” policy would seem to decrease the overall number of available guns and therefore decrease gun use, a “guns for all” policy that allows anyone to own a gun may arm potential victims and deter criminals from attacking in the first place. And then there is also a middle ground: a moderate gun policy in which certain kinds of guns are available to some people under certain circumstances.

So which policy is best? According to the model, the somewhat surprising result is that the gun-related homicide rate can only be minimized for the two extreme strategies: either a complete ban or a “guns for all” policy. The moderate policy—although seemingly most realistic of the three—results in a higher homicide rate than either of the two extreme policies. So the problem is still far from solved.

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