We’re proud to release the 2016 edition of the annual Gun Law State Scorecard, which assigns letter grades to each state based on the strength or weakness of its gun laws. As in years past, this year’s Scorecard showcases simple but compelling evidence: by enacting smart gun laws, we can significantly reduce gun death rates and safeguard our communities.
The 2016 Gun Law State Scorecard reveals the strong correlation between smart gun laws and lower gun death rates. States with the weakest laws, like Mississippi and Alaska (ranked 50 and 44 out of 50), have some of the highest gun death rates in the nation (4 and 1, respectively). Meanwhile states with stronger gun laws like California and Massachusetts (ranked 1 and 4 out of 50) have some of the lowest gun death rates in the country (43 and 50, respectively), showing that commonsense solutions like universal background checks are saving lives from gun violence in states across the country.
Earlier this year, we witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in American history, when a gunman opened fire in an Orlando nightclub, killing 49 and wounding 53 more. The renewed national attention to this issue added many more necessary voices of support to the ever-growing movement for smart gun laws.
- Remarkable momentum for smart gun laws at the state level: In the four years since 20 children and six educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School, lawmakers in 42 states and Washington DC have passed over 160 new smart gun laws.
- Gun-safety ballot initiatives won big on Election Day: Voters in California, Nevada, and Washington sidestepped a Congress paralyzed by the gun lobby’s grip by enacting comprehensive gun safety laws at the ballot box.
- Support for domestic violence gun safety legislation continues to grow: Since women in domestic violence situations are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has a gun, state lawmakers have strengthened laws that keep guns out of abusers’ hands. In 2016, six states passed laws preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms—even in states with some of the weakest gun laws like Tennessee and Virginia.
- Defeat of campus-carry bills: The gun violence prevention movement scored major defensive victories by standing up against irresponsible legislation that would allow hidden, loaded weapons to be carried on college campuses. Activists defeated dangerous guns-on-campus bills in 17 states, including a veto from the governor of Georgia.
We are so proud of our work on the front lines in the battle for smart gun laws in 2016. Law Center attorneys drafted ballot language for California’s Proposition 63, the “Safety for All” initiative, passed by voters on Election Day by a 63% margin. Our staffers also wrote the model law Washington state used as a guide for its Extreme Risk Protection Order ballot initiative, worked with ARS to craft policy solutions for President Obama’s executive actions on guns, and partnered with legislators and activists in states across the country to pass bold new gun laws.