Publications

Regulating Guns in America: 2014 Edition

Posted on Friday, October 31st, 2014

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to release the 2014 edition of our seminal publication, Regulating Guns in America: A Comprehensive Analysis of Gun Laws Nationwide.

This one-of-a-kind report on federal, state, and local gun laws is an invaluable resource for lawmakers, activists, and others seeking in-depth information on firearms regulation in a single publication. In addition to summarizing existing law and providing background information on gun policy, Regulating Guns in America offers common-sense, actionable legislative recommendations to prevent gun violence and save lives.

Topics covered include:

  • Background Checks & Access to Firearms
  • Gun Dealer Sales & Other Transfers
  • Gun Owner Responsibilities
  • Classes of Weapons
  • Consumer and Child Safety
  • Guns in Public Places
  • Investigating Gun Crimes
  • Local Authority to Regulate Firearms
  • Dangerous Trends in State Legislation
  • The Second Amendment

Download your copy of Regulating Guns in America today. Those interested in a print copy should email [email protected] for more information.

For the latest information on firearms regulations in all 50 states and the smart gun laws that can save lives, be sure to bookmark the Laws and Policies section of our website: smartgunlaws.org/gun-policy.

Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions Release Second Commonsense Solutions Toolkit on Guns and Domestic Violence

Posted on Thursday, October 9th, 2014

 

One of the most overlooked aspects of the gun debate in America is the deadly connection between guns and domestic violence. As part of our ongoing partnership with Americans for Responsible Solutions, the Law Center has developed Commonsense Solutions: State Laws to Address Gun Violence Against Women. This toolkit for legislators and advocates both documents existing laws on guns and domestic violence and offers suggestions for commonsense gun laws to better protect victims of domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we strongly believe that by implementing smart gun laws, we can reduce the number of domestic violence incidents that end in firearm-related deaths or injuries. While men and children can also be victims of domestic violence, women are particularly at risk.

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The Commonsense Gun Laws Partnership: A Collaboration Dedicated to Preventing Gun Violence

Posted on Friday, August 15th, 2014

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Earlier this year, we announced an exciting new partnership between the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired combat veteran and NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. Together, we are committed to bringing some sanity to our nation’s gun laws.

With our more than 20 years of research and knowledge on the nation’s gun laws, and the powerful grassroots network cultivated by Americans for Responsible Solutions, together we are producing tools that will empower lawmakers and community members to stop gun violence before it happens.

The Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will assist legislators by creating a series of toolkits that will aid in developing solutions to protect communities from gun violence while ensuring that the legislation complies with the Second Amendment. The toolkits on each topic will provide:

  • Evidence of the particular gap in current laws that perpetuate gun violence;
  • Effective, tested solutions to close the loophole;
  • Policy rationale for action;
  • Legal basis for new laws; and
  • Most importantly – straight-forward features of the policies that will guide legislative drafting.

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Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

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The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions to release Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations. This collaborative report provides analysis of laws that help to empower community members to prevent gun violence in crisis situations.

Together, the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to develop solutions to keep guns out of dangerous hands through careful research and legislative drafting. The Law Center’s unparalleled legal expertise and the formidable grassroots network of Americans for Responsible Solutions will ensure that the best information available on smart gun policies reaches legislators nationwide.

Download a PDF copy of Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

Preventing the Next Mass Shooting Before It’s News

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown. Most Americans can easily list many of the high profile mass shootings that our nation has experienced. News reports after these events frequently mention that friends, family members, and acquaintances noted a change in the shooter’s behavior in the time leading up to the tragedy. While a variety of legislative proposals can help reduce mass shootings, one approach is to give community members ways to act, so that access to guns can be temporarily removed when a person is in crisis.

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2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter

Posted on Monday, December 9th, 2013

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The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with the Brady Campaign to release our 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter. This collaborative report empowers us all by putting the Law Center’s in-depth research on America’s gun laws into the hands of the advocates across the nation so they can continue to fight for effective gun policies in their communities.

Download the full 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter here.

Since Newtown, so much has changed. The slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School sent shockwaves through the nation and ignited a passionate call for our leaders to take steps to prevent gun violence. When Congress failed to pass any new gun violence prevention legislation in 2013, including the overwhelmingly popular legislation to expand background checks, state legislatures answered the call.

Starting last January, legislators in state houses across the country began introducing a record number of bills to strengthen gun laws. Even states with historically weak gun laws, like Florida, Missouri, and Texas, took action towards sensible gun legislation. In fact, twenty-one states enacted new laws to curb gun violence in their communities, with eight of these states passing major reforms—far eclipsing the corporate gun lobby’s limited success in state legislatures in 2013.

Click on each state’s initials in the map below to see our analysis of the gun laws in that state.

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The 2013 Law Center & Brady Campaign State Gun Laws Scorecard1

To view a larger version of this map, click here.

Gun laws really do matter. State gun laws fill enormous gaps that exist in our nation’s federal laws, and help to reduce gun violence and keep citizens safe. In part because these laws help to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and aid law enforcement in solving gun crimes, many of the states with the strongest gun laws also have the lowest gun death rates.

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  1. The combined expertise of the Law Center and Brady Campaign informed our grading system. Only states that have enacted several significant firearms laws received enough points to receive a grade in the A range. The states in the B and C ranges have enacted fewer laws, but do have some important gun safety measures on the books. The D states have only a small handful of firearms regulation while the F states have enacted little to no firearms regulation and, in many cases, have lost points for irresponsible gun laws. []

Gun Safety & Public Health: Policy Recommendations for a More Secure America

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

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The National Physicians Alliance has partnered with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to produce this report, which describes the public health approach to reducing gun violence, including policy recommendations.

Read the full publication below or download Gun Safety & Public Health: Policy Recommendations for a More Secure America.

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The California Model: Twenty Years of Putting Safety First

Posted on Monday, July 29th, 2013

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The Law Center’s latest publication, The California Model: Twenty Years of Putting Safety First, examines the history of success in enacting smart gun laws in California and how those laws have contributed to a significant drop in gun death rates in the state.

As the publication describes, gun violence is not a problem without solutions. We know what works,
we’ve seen the difference it has made in California, and we are already seeing the same success in states around the country.

Download a PDF Copy of The California Model

Two Mass Shootings that Changed California

In 1989, a catastrophic event changed the perception of gun violence in California. A gunman took an assault rifle to Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, where he killed five children and wounded 29 others as well as one teacher.

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In the early 1990s the toll of gun violence in California rose to unprecedented levels – at one point 15% higher than the national average.1

The parallels between the Stockton shooting and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut are startling. As one news report observed, “Except for the fatal scale of the Connecticut shooting[,] the assault at Cleveland Elementary School here featured near-identical and tragic themes: young victims, a troubled gunman and a military-style rifle.”2

The Stockton shooting shocked California and the nation, igniting calls for change.  Then, as now, change was not quick to come from Congress. Instead, it was California’s legislature that responded to the demand for action, adopting the first assault weapons ban in the country that same year.

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  1. U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS), 1981-1998 Fatal Injury Report, 1981-1998, http://webappa.cdc.gov/sasweb/ncipc/mortrate9.html (accessed on July 11, 2013). []
  2. Stockton school massacre: A tragically familiar pattern, USA Today (Apr. 1, 2013), http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/04/01/stockton-massacre-tragically-familiar-pattern-repeats/2043297/. []

Gun Laws Matter 2012:
Understanding the Link Between Weak Laws and Gun Violence

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

Gun Laws Matter

We hear stories of gun violence every day. Domestic disputes turning deadly. Street crimes taking the lives of innocent people. Mass shootings wreaking havoc in our public spaces. Suicides and fatal accidents devastating families across the country. The unrelenting toll of America’s gun violence epidemic leaves 100,000 people injured or killed every year in communities nationwide.1 But while the number of people affected by this crisis is staggering – 86 people die by guns every single day – it’s almost equally shocking to find that legislators nationwide aren’t doing everything in their power to prevent the killings.

Plenty of widely supported policies can reduce gun violence, but, in many states, they aren’t being adopted.2 In fact, a number of states have chosen to pass measures that actually make it more difficult for law enforcement, doctors, and local officials to work to reduce gun deaths and injuries.

Click on each state’s initials in the map below to see our analysis of the gun laws in that state.

State Grade Map

Grades have been assigned based on the strength of each state’s gun laws. A state in blue (or orange) has one of the ten lowest (or highest) gun death rates of all fifty states.

See a larger, non-clickable version of this map.

California Arizona Nevada Oregon Washington Idaho Wyoming Montana Utah Alaska New Mexico Hawaii Texas Oklahoma Colorado Kansas Nebraska South Dakota North Dakota Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Mississippi Alabama Tennessee Georgia Florida South Carolina Kentucky Illinois Wisconsin Michigan Indiana Ohio West Virginia North Carolina Virginia Pennsylvania New York Vermont Maine New Hampshire Delaware Maryland Massachusetts New Jersey Rhode Island Connecticut

State gun laws are critical because our federal gun laws are extremely weak and leave enormous gaps. For example, 40% of all gun sales can be completed without background checks because federal law doesn’t require checks for firearm sales between private parties.3 Unless states step in and adopt their own smart laws, federal gaps like these allow guns to easily flow into the hands of criminals.

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  1. Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Injury Mortality Reports, 1999-2010, for National, Regional, and States; Nat’l Ctr. for Injury Prevention & Control, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Web-Based Injury Statistics Query & Reporting System (WISQARS) Nonfatal Injury Reports. []
  2. For model legislation on a number of critical gun violence prevention polices, see our publication Model Laws for a Safer America. []
  3. Philip J. Cook & Jens Ludwig, Guns in America: National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms, U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice Research in Brief 6-7 (May 1997). See our Federal Law on Private Sales page for more information. []

The Second Amendment Battleground:
Victories in the Courts and Why They Matter

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

The Law Center’s latest brochure, The Second Amendment Battleground: Victories in the Courts and Why They Matter, examines trends in Second Amendment litigation since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision in 2008. Although the Heller Court held that the Second Amendment protects a responsible, law-abiding citizen’s right to possess an operable handgun in the home for self-defense, the vast majority of courts that have heard Second Amendment challenges since that case have rejected them, upholding a wide variety of gun laws as constitutional.

As the publication describes, smart gun laws aren’t just constitutional. They’re also critical to preventing gun violence in our communities.

Download a PDF copy of The Second Amendment Battleground.

Heller and the Explosion of Second Amendment Litigation

Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court singlehandedly inserted the judicial system into the ongoing national debate over gun laws in America. In a 5-4 decision in 2008’s District of Columbia v. Heller,1 the Court invalidated the District of Columbia’s handgun ban and firearm storage law, stating for the first time that the Second Amendment protects a responsible, law-abiding citizen’s right to possess an operable handgun in the home for self-defense.

Heller was unquestionably a radical decision, overturning the Court’s previous ruling that the Second Amendment was tied to state militia service.2 For almost seventy years, lower federal and state courts nationwide had relied on that pronouncement to reject hundreds of Second Amendment challenges.

The Heller decision immediately drew strong criticism from a wide array of legal scholars, historians, advocates, and legislators, including a particularly scathing rebuke from respected conservative judge Richard Posner, who noted that, “The only certain effect of the Heller decision…will be to increase litigation over gun ownership.”3

In fact, new litigation started almost immediately. The day that Heller was announced, plaintiffs filed a lawsuit challenging the City of Chicago’s handgun ban, with a second suit filed the next day. Other suits emerged soon after, escalating once the Supreme Court confirmed that the Second Amendment also applied to state and local laws in 2010’s McDonald v. City of Chicago decision.4 After that case, the number of lawsuits challenging gun laws nationwide skyrocketed.

Supreme Court Judge Richard Posner Quote Second Amendment

Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner criticized Justice Scalia’s majority opinion in Heller5

Thankfully, despite the explosion of litigation, courts across the country have rejected the overwhelming majority of Second Amendment challenges initiated since Heller. As discussed here, gun rights advocates and criminal defendants across the country have sought to expand the Second Amendment to invalidate almost every gun law on the books today. In siding with us and the majority of Americans who support sensible gun laws, courts are finding that smart laws aren’t just constitutional – they’re also critical to keeping our communities safe from gun violence.

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  1. District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). []
  2. United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939). []
  3. Richard A. Posner, In Defense of Looseness, The New Republic, Aug. 27, 2008. []
  4. McDonald v. City of Chicago, 130 S. Ct. 3020 (U.S. 2010). []
  5. Posner, supra note 3. []

Forced Reciprocity: Why Your Community Shouldn’t Be Subject to Other States’ Weak Concealed Handgun Laws

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Last updated November 29, 2011

State laws regulating who can carry concealed, loaded handguns and where they may carry them are more permissive than ever before. In most states across the country, almost anyone may carry a concealed handgun in public after meeting some minimum permitting requirements. Still, a handful of states impose important restrictions limiting the number of guns in public, while Illinois and the District of Columbia continue to prohibit concealed carrying entirely.

Emboldened by its successes in state legislatures nationwide, the gun lobby has now turned its attention to Congress, where it is pushing legislation to impose national concealed carry “reciprocity.” Federal reciprocity would force states that issue concealed carry permits to recognize every other state’s permits, eviscerating every state’s authority to restrict who may carry guns within their borders. As described in our report, Forced Reciprocity: Why Your Community Shouldn’t Be Subject to Other States’ Weak Concealed Handgun Laws, forcing states to recognize other states’ permits poses a significant risk to public safety nationwide and tramples the abilities of states to set their own permitting standards to keep their citizens safe.

Download Forced Reciprocity: Why Your Community Shouldn’t Be Subject to Other States’ Weak Concealed Handgun Laws