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BU Study Shows Link Between Rates Of Gun Ownership And Gun-Related Deaths

BOSTON (CBS) - A new Boston University study directly links the rate of gun ownership to the rate of gun-related deaths.

Michael Siegel and his team within the BU School of Public Health are challenging the National Rifle Association's argument that more registered guns equal fewer firearm-related deaths.

The study, which spans 50 states and covers some 30 years, reveals, "The higher the number of guns the higher the homicide rates are," said Siegel.

Siegel's research shows New Hampshire has the lowest firearm-homicide rate at .9 percent. Louisiana registered the highest, with a rate of almost 11 percent. Massachusetts came in around 1.6 percent.

"We need to do a lot more research immediately," insisted Siegel. "This needs to be an urgent priority for the government because we cant allow tragedy after tragedy to occur without really getting towards an understanding."

The Boston University study came out on Thursday, just days before Aaron Alexis allegedly opened fire on a Washington D.C. Navy yard, killing at least 12 people.

"If Congress is really serious about responding to issues like what happened yesterday or other tragedies...Congress really needs to take the first step which is to open up the route to have federal funding of firearms research," said Siegel.

Siegel said the December 2012 Newtown tragedy moved to him to examine the relationship between guns and homicide. Twenty six people, including 20 children, died in the Newtown Connecticut elementary school shooting. Seventeen years ago the United States Congress cut federal funding for gun violence research. President Obama ended the ban following the Newtown massacre, but Congress has not voted to restore those funds.

The Gun Owners' Action League spokesman Mike Sweeney sent a statement in response to the Boston University study, part of which reads, "As their summary says, 'the study did not determine causation.' We understand the problem of violence to be a "people problem" and attempts to deflect blame to firearms a costly distraction from addressing those actual causal influences to violence."

According to Siegel, people who live in states where homicides are on the rise could be buying more guns for protection, but he said the issue requires more research.

WBZ reached out to the NRA for a comment, but the organization did not respond.

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