We’re so proud to release the Annual Gun Law Scorecard—every year, we grade each state based on the strength or weakness of its gun laws. Over the years, the Scorecard has brought forward a straightforward but compelling truth: by investing in proven solutions to gun violence, working both with lawmakers and community-based leaders, we can drastically reduce gun death rates and shore up public safety from this widespread crisis that takes more than 38,000 American lives each year.
The information visualized in the Scorecard is required reading in the current political climate—we’ve seen the level of discourse elevate since the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida took 17 lives too soon. Following the emotional pleas of student survivors, lawmakers are being urged by constituents to pass the kind of gun safety laws that would prevent such shootings from tearing apart other communities.
This year’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard reveals, yet again, the undeniable correlation between a state’s gun laws and its gun death rate. States with the weakest laws, like Mississippi and Alaska (ranked 50 and 44, respectively) have some of our nation’s highest gun death rates (4 and 1). Meanwhile, states with a strong commitment to saving lives from gun violence, like California and Connecticut (ranked 1 and 3, respectively), have low gun death rates to match (43 and 45, respectively). This data correlates with our research that shows that lifesaving solutions to gun violence, like universal background checks and urban violence intervention programs, work to reduce gun death rates at the state level.
In October, 2017 our nation was forced to cope with the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, when a gunman opened fire over a country music festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, killing 58 and injuring a stunning 851 more. The shooter used a deadly accessory known as a “bump stock” to fire into the crowd more rapidly, essentially turning a military-style weapon into a machine gun.
In the wake of the tragedy, lawmakers and the public called on Congress to ban this dangerous accessory, but so far, progress on this piece of legislation has been hamstrung by the gun lobby and its profit-before-people agenda. The renewed national attention to our movement added many more essential voices of support to the fight for gun safety legislation.
This year’s analysis of the status of gun laws in all 50 states revealed:
- Impressive progress for gun safety laws at the state level: Since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, our movement has worked to pass more than 210 new gun safety laws in 45 states and Washington DC.
- Laws to protect victims of domestic abuse from gun violence remain popular: Women in domestic violence situations are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser has a gun—this grim fact led lawmakers in eight states to pass laws preventing domestic abusers from accessing firearms, even in states with strong gun cultures, like Louisiana and North Dakota.
Community-based solutions to gun violence are gaining traction: This year, two states with strong gun laws, Connecticut and California, passed bills that secured funding for violence intervention and prevention programs in underserved urban communities.
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 18 states.
Other victories: Additionally, states moved to save lives in a number of other areas, with Oregon passing an Extreme Risk Protection Order, Massachusetts banning bump stocks, and California passing a law that prohibits hate crime offenders from possessing guns for 10 years.
To learn more about how your state can strengthen its gun laws in these and other essential ways, explore the Annual Gun Law Scorecard. The evidence is clear—enacting gun safety policies like universal background checks, extreme risk protection order laws, and funding for community-based violence intervention programs saves lives.