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SALT LAKE CITY — Following the tragedies in Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn. last year, the national rhetoric revolved around controlling the types of firearms Americans should be legally allowed to own. But a recently highlighted study shows that controlling firearms is actually counterproductive.
In a study published by Harvard University, researchers Don B. Kates and Gary Mauser reviewed the gun laws in several European countries to see if banning firearms would decrease murders and suicides. They found that countries with higher firearm ownership had lower murder rates.
The researchers looked at Russia, which has strict firearm control measure, as a similar country to the United States in murder rates in the 1960s and 70s. However, Russia's murder rates have drastically increased in the years since.
"While American rates stabilized and then steeply declined, however, Russian murder increased so drastically that by the early 1990s the Russian rate was three times higher than that of the United States," the study says. "Between 1998-2004 (the latest figure available for Russia), Russian murder rates were nearly four times higher than American rates."
They found that Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all had similar problems, with murder rates increasing despite the absence of firearms. Researchers said "homicide results suggest that where guns are scarce other weapons are substituted in killings."
In comparison, the study looks to countries with high rates of gun ownership — Germany, France and Denmark — finding that murder rates were "as low or lower than many developed nations in which gun ownership is much rarer."
"For example," the study says, "Luxembourg, where handguns are totally banned and ownership of any kind of gun is minimal, had a murder rate nine times higher than Germany in 2002."
Additionally, the study looked at violence compared to firearm ownership and found there is "a negative correlation."
"(Where) firearms are most dense violent crime rates are lowest, and where guns are least dense violent crime rates are highest."
The Obama administration announced Thursday new steps to increase gun control, particularly by curbing military surplus weapons and a plan to close a loophole that allows felons to get around background checks.
"It's simple, it's straightforward, it's common sense," Biden said Thursday morning.
With the Obama Administration continually working to push gun control legislation, the debate over firearm ownership is not likely to dissipate anytime soon.