We’re so proud to release our much-anticipated annual Gun Law State Scorecard, which assigns letter grades and rankings to each state based on the strength of its gun laws.
The 2015 Gun Law State Scorecard reveals a strong correlation between smart gun laws and fewer gun deaths—states with the weakest laws, like Wyoming and Mississippi (ranked 48 and 49 out of 50), have some of the highest gun death rates in the country (5 and 3, respectively), while states with strong laws, like California and Massachusetts (ranked 1 and 5 out of 50), have some of the lowest gun death rates (42 and 49, respectively). Simply put, the Scorecard shows that gun laws save lives.
This year’s Scorecard comes at the tail-end of a year of seemingly relentless gun violence, with more mass shootings than days. High profile killings from Charleston to Roseburg to San Bernardino dominated the headlines in 2015 and public outcry over America’s gun violence epidemic reached a fever pitch. Never has attention been so strongly focused on this issue.
The Gun Law State Scorecard highlights a number of the gun violence prevention movement’s success stories in 2015, including:
- Unprecedented momentum for smart gun laws in state legislatures: In the three years since the murder of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, state lawmakers have passed a remarkable 125 new smart gun laws in 41 states.
- Oregon passes universal background checks: Lawmakers in Oregon closed a glaring gap in federal law by enacting legislation requiring private or unlicensed firearm sellers to conduct background checks.
- Failure of guns-on-campus bills: The gun violence prevention movement scored critical victories when it came to legislation that would allow carrying concealed weapons on college campuses and the grounds of K–12 schools—gun lobby bills failed in 14 and 15 states respectively.
- 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 2015 nine states passed laws preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms, with little opposition from the gun lobby.
“While Congress has shamefully failed to act on widely supported firearms policies like universal background checks and prohibiting gun possession by those on the terror watchlist, we have seen encouraging, lifesaving progress at the state level,” said Robyn Thomas, Executive Director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “The 2015 Gun Law State Scorecard shows that smart gun laws make a real difference. State legislators can make their communities safer by enacting common-sense gun laws, following in the footsteps of states like California and New York. Change isn’t just possible—it’s happening.”
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has been on the frontline of many of the fights for smart gun laws in 2015. The Law Center has been working in support of background checks in Oregon since 2012, worked closely with lawmakers in 20 states, and supported domestic violence gun legislation across the country.