Gun violence is a crisis. 117,000 Americans are shot every year, a rate that outpaces our peers by orders of magnitude. Horrific mass shootings dominate the headlines. Firearms amplify domestic violence, resulting in American women being 11 times more likely to be murdered with a gun than women in similar countries. Underserved urban communities are pervaded by shootings, with young black men experiencing a gun death rate 20 times the national average. Over 20,000 Americans kill themselves with guns every year, and news stories regularly report episodes of toddlers shooting themselves or their parents with poorly stored firearms. Something has to change.
The good news is, we know what to do. For our annual Gun Law Scorecard, the Law Center’s attorneys rank the states on the strength of their gun laws and compare it with the states’ gun death rates. Year after year, we see a powerful correlation—states with stronger laws have fewer gun deaths per capita while states with weak laws have more gun deaths. When you drill down into specific issues, like domestic violence, mental health, and gun trafficking, the results are even clearer: gun laws work.
The correlation between smart gun laws and reduced gun violence is clear—we know that commonsense legislative solutions are associated with dramatically lower gun death rates and drastic decreases in gun trafficking. While progress has stalled in Congress, momentum for these policies is building in statehouses across the nation. State lawmakers have enacted over 100 smart gun laws in more than 40 states since the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
The policy experts at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions frequently partner with lawmakers and advocates in states across the country to craft legislation that keeps guns out of the wrong hands, closes gaps in current law, and saves lives. Our series of Commonsense Solutions toolkits gives state legislators the blueprint they need to write the laws that will protect our families and communities from the scourge of gun violence.