States With Lax Gun Laws Have More Gun Deaths
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence developed a point system that measures the relative strength of all 50 states’ gun laws with states gaining points for laws that are strict and states losing points for laws that are more lenient. States gain points for laws that require universal background checks, limit bulk firearms purchases and other similar gun laws. States lose points for laws that allow hidden, loaded guns in schools and in bars, allow concealed weapons in public without a permit and other similar laws.
The state constitutional provisions and other state laws are quoted from NRA-ILA. Let’s take a look at four states with the highest gun death rates.
Alaska’s gun laws are tied for the 44th toughest in the country, but they rank 4th in gun deaths. Alaska gun laws do not require background checks for the transfer of a firearm between private parties, prohibit assault weapons, regulate ammunition sales, nor limit bulk gun purchases. They do limit how municipalities can regulate firearms. In 2014, Alaska strengthened gun laws by requiring individuals to submit mental health commitment records for background checks.
State constitutional provision: “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be denied or infringed by the state or political subdivision of the State.” Article 1, Section 19.
Wyoming’s gun laws are tied for the 6th easiest in the country, and they rank 1st in gun deaths. Wyoming gun laws do not require background checks for the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals nor do they regulate assault weapons. They also limit how cities, towns, counties or political subdivisions can regulate firearms.
State constitutional provision: “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be denied.” Article 1, Section 24.
Mississippi’s gun laws are the 2nd easiest in the country, and they rank 1st in gun deaths. Mississippi gun laws do not require background checks for the transfer of a firearm between private parties, regulation of assault weapons, nor gun owners to have a license.
Louisiana has the most relaxed gun laws in the country, and they rank 2nd in gun deaths. Louisiana gun laws do not require background checks for the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed parties, regulate assault weapons, require gun owners to have a license or register their firearms, nor allow local governments to regulate firearms. In 2014, Louisiana strengthened gun laws by restricting access to firearms by domestic abusers and loosened gun laws by prohibiting schools from gathering information about student gun ownership.
State constitutional provision: “The right of each citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, but this provision shall not prevent the passage of laws to prohibit the carrying of weapons concealed on the person.” Article 1, Section 11.
According to Factcheck.org:
Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health looked at gun laws and gun deaths in all 50 states from 2007 to 2010, concluding that: “A higher number of firearm laws in a state are associated with a lower rate of firearm fatalities in the state, overall and for suicides and homicides individually.” Their research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine in May 2013. But the study said that it couldn’t determine cause-and-effect.
One of the authors, Dr. Eric Fleegler, a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Boston Children’s Hospital, told the Boston Globe that “[i]n states with the most laws, we found a dramatic decreased rate in firearm fatalities, though we can’t say for certain that these laws have led to fewer deaths.”
What About Gun Laws And Cities
It seems like the problem isn’t the number of gun laws, but the enforcement or lack thereof of them. Again, from Factcheck.org:
An August 2013 CDC report looked at rates for gun homicides in the 50 most populous metropolitan areas. It found that for 2009-2010, the top gun murder rate areas were, in order: New Orleans, Memphis, Detroit, Birmingham, St. Louis, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Chicago.
Six of those cities are in states with poor scores for their gun laws, while the other four get a “C” or better. Chicago, which placed last in the top 10, had a ban on handguns at the time. There’s no discernible pattern among those cities, nor clear or convincing evidence in these statistics that shows more gun laws lead to more or less gun crime.
*Gun death rates exclude murders by all other means, and include suicides, justifiable shootings and police shootings.