A report released by the Violence Policy Center shows that states with weaker gun laws and higher rate of gun ownership have more deaths from gun violence than other states.
The study defined states with weak gun laws as those states that don’t “add extra provisions to federal gun laws, such as banning assault weapons or requiring a permit to buy a gun. In addition, states with open or concealed carry laws were considered to have weak gun restrictions.”
The Violence Policy Center reached its conclusions by analyzing data gathered from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. In addition to showing that those states with weaker gun laws and high rates of gun ownership result in greater gun deaths, the data collected also showed that the opposite is true — those “states with the lowest overall gun death rates have lower rates of gun ownership and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws in the nation.”
The report adds, “However, even in these states the human toll of gun violence is far above the gun death rate in other industrialized nations.”
The state with the highest rate of gun fatalities in the country, according to the most recent data, is Alaska. In 2013, Alaska had 19.59 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people. This is significantly higher than the national average of 10.64 deaths per 100,000. Alaska has the country’s third-highest rate of gun ownership, with 60.6 percent of all households reporting that firearms are present within the home.
Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Wyoming are the states that followed Alaska in the highest rates on gun deaths. All states had some of the nation’s largest percentage of households with guns present, as well as having gun restrictions that fell within the study’s definition of “weak gun restrictions.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York were the states with the lowest gun death rates. A separate analysis done by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence lists these three states as those states with the strongest gun restrictions in place.
The newest report by the Violence Policy Center is not the first to challenge the “more guns, less crime” hypothesis with data that shows the very opposite is true. According to other studies, between 2011 and 2013, the five states with the highest percentages of gun ownership saw a disturbing and noticeable spike in gun-related deaths per 100,000 residents. Yet another report published by researchers from John Hopkins and Stanford University finds a link between a rise in violent crimes and right-to-carry laws.
Each state has autonomy in respect to gun laws, whether strict or weak. For example, each state can decide whether or not to perform background checks, where gun owners can bring their guns, and what types of weapons and ammunition can be sold.
The tragic 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, brought scrutiny to America’s high level of gun violence, especially in comparison to other other industrialized countries, such as the United Kingdom, where the gun violence death rate is 0.23 deaths per 100,000 residents. Since the Sandy Hook school shooting, the Huffington Post reports that “At least 64 state laws have been passed in the last two years that strengthened gun regulations. In the same time period, at least 70 state laws have been passed that weakened regulations, and at least 38 more have passed that had ‘minimal impact’ on regulations.” And data shows that Americans continue to stockpile guns and ammunition at even higher rates than ever before, despite studies showing that more guns actually translate into more crime.
For more on the gun control debate, click here, and tell us — what do you think? Does America need stricter, more uniform gun control?