3 Sep 2015

The States With The Most Gun Laws See The Fewest Gun-Related Deaths

As of the fi­nal days of Au­gust, the United States has seen more than 200 mass shoot­ings in 2015. The murder of WD­BJ re­port­er Al­is­on Park­er and cam­era­man Adam Ward on Wed­nes­day dur­ing an on-air broad­cast brought the is­sue of guns back to the fore­front of the polit­ic­al de­bate.
Hours after the in­cid­ent, 2016 pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Hil­lary Clin­ton tweeted her sup­port for the im­me­di­ate tight­en­ing of gun laws. Across the aisle, Re­pub­lic­an con­tenders also ex­pressed sym­pathy and grief, but dis­missed the call for stricter gun le­gis­la­tion, cit­ing oth­er factors—men­tal healthpoor law en­force­ment—as the causes of Amer­ica’s gun vi­ol­ence prob­lem. One can­did­ate asked, “What law in the world could have pre­ven­ted him from killing them?”
While it’s cer­tainly true that a num­ber of factors con­trib­ute to the high rates of gun vi­ol­ence in the U.S., a com­par­is­on of state laws versus rates of shoot­ing deaths does show a cor­rel­a­tion. The states that im­pose the most re­stric­tions on gun users also have the low­est rates of gun-re­lated deaths, while states with few­er reg­u­la­tions typ­ic­ally have a much high­er death rate from guns. 

"Stand your ground"

When it comes to self-de­fense laws in the U.S., there are two broad cat­egor­ies for states: “stand your ground,” and “duty to re­treat.”
In “duty to re­treat” states, a per­son must at­tempt to flee from the dan­ger­ous situ­ation be­fore re­sort­ing to deadly force, un­less they’re already in their own home or private prop­erty. But in oth­er states, “stand your ground” laws of­fer com­plete im­munity from pro­sec­u­tion for the per­son de­fend­ing him or her­self with deadly force, wheth­er the en­counter oc­curs in that per­son’s home, or in a pub­lic set­ting.
Among states that do not have any kind of “stand your ground” law, the av­er­age rate of gun hom­icides in 2013 was 1.15 lower (per 100,000 people) than in states that do have such laws.

Background checks

Fed­er­al law re­quires back­ground checks on all com­mer­cial gun sales. However, this ex­cludes any trans­ac­tion from an un­li­censed seller, such as a sale at a gun show or on­line. An es­tim­ated 40 per­cent of gun sales in the coun­try are made via un­li­censed sellers.
In an at­tempt to close this loop­hole, cer­tain states have laws sub­ject­ing all gun sales, re­gard­less of vendor type, to back­ground checks.
Among the states that im­pose ex­tra back­ground check re­quire­ments for private gun sales, the av­er­age gun hom­icide rate in 2013 (per 100,000 people) was .61 lower than in states that do not reg­u­late back­ground checks bey­ond the fed­er­al re­quire­ments.

Concealed Carry

In reg­u­lat­ing the right to carry a con­cealed weapon, states gen­er­ally fall in­to one of two camps: “may is­sue” and “shall is­sue.” In the “may is­sue” states, law en­force­ment agen­cies are gran­ted dis­cre­tion in de­term­in­ing who re­ceives a per­mit. In the “shall is­sue” states, law en­force­ment has little to no dis­cre­tion, and is ob­lig­ated to is­sue a per­mit to just about any ap­plic­ant that meets ba­sic re­quire­ments. Four states do not re­quire a per­mit to carry a con­cealed fire­arm.


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