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Gun wounds in California spike every time Nevada has a gun show

Every time a gun show is held in Nevada, California hospitals near the state border see a huge spike in gun-related injuries and deaths for the next two weeks, a study from the University of Calfornia, Berkeley, found Monday. But when California held a gun show, there was no such increase in gun injuries.

And researchers have an idea why: While California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, Nevada has relatively few regulations — and none that explicitly police gun shows.


“Laws regulating access to guns matter and do make a difference, especially collectively,” two University of Washington researchers write in an editorial that accompanies the study, which is the first to examine the impact of gun shows across state lines. “The state-by-state nature of these laws, due to the lack of federal legislation, results in barriers to gun access that can be easily breached by a car trip.”

The study looked at the records of hospitals within a couple hours’ drive from the Nevada state line from 2005 and 2013, during which the two states held a total of 915 gun shows. In the 14 days after a gun show started in Nevada, California hospitals typically dealt with 70 percent more firearm injuries than after a California gun show. (The study didn’t examine Nevada hospitals.)

That difference may be because California residents must clear several hurdles in order to buy a weapon at gun shows. Not only do they have to pass a background check in order to transfer firearms at gun shows, but the state imposes a 10-day waiting period for all gun purchases.

Those laws may deter people from trying to buy firearms at gun shows to use in illegal, potentially violent activities, the researchers suggest, though they note that the study doesn’t “formally assess the effect or enforcement of firearm policies in either state.” The laws may also simply lead Californians to head to Nevada in order to buy a gun without the headache.

Ultimately, the impact of these laws and gun shows at large is still unclear — and that’s a problem, the University of Washington researchers say.

Because the Centers for Disease Control is essentially banned from researching firearms, they write, “unfortunately, the amount of research on firearms is disproportionately low compared with the burden they impose on health care and society as a whole.”