We're not doctors and we're certainly not licensed to practice medicine in Massachusetts. But if we were, we'd have some age-old device to give to gun control supporters in the Bay State's legislature, who are demanding that more gun control laws be imposed on top of unusually restrictive laws already in effect there: "Take a dose of common sense and call us in the morning."
Evaluating the patient's history, we would find that Massachusetts used to have almost the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation. Until 1998, that is, when it made its laws even more restrictive, while in most states gun control restrictions were being eliminated or made less severe. And since Massachusetts tightened its gun laws 15 years ago, the numbers and per capita rates of firearm-related murders have increased there, while decreasing in the nation as a whole.
For example, from 1997, the last year before Massachusetts' tighter laws were imposed, through 2010, the most recent year for which FBI Supplementary Homicide Report data are available, the annual number of firearm-related murders in Massachusetts rose 97 percent, while declining 19 percent nationally.
Adjusted for population growth in Massachusetts and nationally, the average annual per capita rates of firearm-related murder rose 41 percent in Massachusetts and decreased 20 percent nationally between 1998 and 2010, as compared to 1997.
Furthermore, it has been in the most recent years that things have been getting comparatively worse in Massachusetts. From 1997 to 2010, the firearm murder rate increased 84 percent in Massachusetts, while decreasing 30 percent nationally.
As we said, "call us in the morning." In the meantime, we'd add one more time-honored piece of advice for the patients to heed before exerting themselves in pursuit of more gun control: "If it hurts when you do that, stop doing that."