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Law Center Releases States' Gun Grades


Annual scorecard finds that states with the strongest gun laws have the lowest gun rate death.

A new analysis by The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a Joyce grantee, shows that in spite of limited action at the federal level, state lawmakers have listened to their residents and created policies to make communities safer. The 6th Annual Gun Law State Scorecard showed unprecedented momentum for smart gun laws, particularly with regard to background checks, gun violence restraining orders, and laws that keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers.

Find Your State’s Gun Grade

The Scorecard reveals a strong correlation between gun laws and gun deaths. Indeed, states with the weakest laws, such as Mississippi and Alaska (ranked 50th and 44th), have some of the highest gun death rates in the country (5th and 1st, respectively), while states with strong laws, such as California and Massachusetts (ranked 1 and 4) have some of the lowest gun death rates (43 and 50, respectively).

The Annual Gun Law State Scorecard highlights a number of the gun law success stories in 2016, including:

  • Nevada’s new universal background checks law: The law helps prevent guns from falling into the hands of violent criminals, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill. And not just in Nevada—the state is a major source of illegal gun trafficking to neighbors with stronger gun laws like California, a practice universal background checks have been proven to help reduce. 
  • Domestic violence legislation: Recognizing that women in domestic violence situations are five times more likely to be killed if their abusers have a gun, in 2016 six states passed laws preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms, with little opposition from the gun lobby. Read more about the research behind these laws.

Joyce’s Gun Violence Prevention Program believes that access to data and sound research on gun violence are critical to the development of effective public policies to reduce firearm injuries and deaths. Research supported by the Joyce Foundation also helps to understand and explain the link between access to firearms and suicide, the risk firearms pose to children, and the sources of illegal guns.

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