Objective. We assessed the effectiveness of South Africa’s Firearm Control Act (FCA), passed in 2000, on firearm homicide rates compared with rates of nonfirearm homicide across 5 South African cities from 2001 to 2005.
Methods. We conducted a retrospective population-based study of 37 067 firearm and nonfirearm homicide cases. Generalized linear models helped estimate and compare time trends of firearm and nonfirearm homicides, adjusting for age, sex, race, day of week, city, year of death, and population size.
Results. There was a statistically significant decreasing trend regarding firearm homicides from 2001, with an adjusted year-on-year homicide rate ratio of 0.864 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.848, 0.880), representing a decrease of 13.6% per annum. The year-on-year decrease in nonfirearm homicide rates was also significant, but considerably lower at 0.976 (95% CI = 0.954, 0.997). Results suggest that 4585 (95% CI = 4427, 4723) lives were saved across 5 cities from 2001 to 2005 because of the FCA.
Conclusions. Strength, timing and consistent decline suggest stricter gun control mediated by the FCA accounted for a significant decrease in homicide overall, and firearm homicide in particular, during the study period.
- Richard G. Matzopoulos is with the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, and the Burden of Disease Research Unit, of the South African Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa. Mary Lou Thompson is with the Department of Biostatistics, University of Washington, Seattle. Jonathan E. Myers is with the School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town.