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The Impact of Gun-Free Zones in St. Louis, Missouri (2015-2019)

Overview

This study will evaluate if shootings are more or less likely to occur in gun-free zones compared with areas where guns are allowed in St. Louis, Missouri between the years of 2015 and 2019.

Status

Awarded

Purpose

This project seeks to understand if gun-free zones in St. Louis, Missouri, repel gun violence due to the legal consequences of carrying a firearm in gun-free zones, or instead attract gun violence due to the presumed lack of firearms that could be used for self-defense.

Approach

Using live birth and fetal death records from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Using a retrospective cohort study design, exposed units in this analysis are gun-free zones. These will be chosen based on past and current laws in St. Louis, Missouri. The unexposed units in this analysis will be areas that are 'gun-allowing,' or places not designated as gun-free. Unexposed units will cover the same amount of area as the exposed units. The outcome will be the occurrence of a shooting in gun-free or gun-allowing zones and will be obtained from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and Gun Violence Archive; both include location data for shootings. To ensure the exposed and unexposed zones are exchangeable, we will use census block level information on demographics to control for potential confounders, including poverty level, education level, race, single mother homes and median income from the Census Bureau.

Significance

Despite major policy decisions that need to be made by cities in relation to gun-free zones, there has been little quantitative research on the topic beyond simple descriptive statistics. This will be the first study to evaluate the impact of gun-free zones using an appropriate comparison group.

Investigator Bio

Paul Reeping is a fourth-year PhD student in Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. His work focuses on the prevention of mass shootings and the reduction of gun violence in the United States.

Grant Amount
$25,000
Award Type
Dissertation
Organization
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Investigator
Paul Reeping, epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
Expected Completion Date
Summer 2021
Year Awarded
2020
Focus Areas
Urban Gun Violence
Policy Analysis