The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies in Congress frequently claim that gun violence is highest in places with the toughest crime laws. But a new study from the Center for American Progress (CAP) suggests something closer to the opposite is true — the states with laxer gun laws tend to be the ones contributing the highest shares of national gun deaths and injuries.
The authors of the report, called “America Under The Gun,” developed a list of ten indices of gun violence, ranging from gun homicide levels to firearm assaults to crime gun export rate (the number of guns sold in that state used in crimes around the country), and ranked each state from 1-50 along each index. They then took the average of each state’s ranking to determine its overall level of gun violence relative to other states. Lousiana was the highest, with an average of fifth-worst across all ten indices, while Hawaii’s 45.4 ranking was the best.
A statistical regression comparing these rankings with strength of gun law found a correlation between weak gun laws and violence levels as measured by the 10-index average. Comparing a state’s relative ranking in strength of gun law (as judged by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence) to a state’s relative gun violence ranking yielded clear evidence that states with looser gun laws contributed more to the national gun violence epidemic:
"While many factors contribute to the rates of gun violence in any state, our research clearly demonstrates a significant correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and the prevalence of gun violence in the state. Across the key indicators of gun violence that we analyzed, the 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have a level of gun violence that is more than twice as high—104 percent higher—than the 10 states with the strongest gun laws."
Here is the map:
10 Indices Used In The Gun Violence Study
The data analyzed in the Center For American Progress' report "America Under The Gun" used the following 10 indicators of gun violence:
- Overall firearm deaths in 2010
- Overall firearm deaths from 2001 through 2010
- Firearm homicides in 2010
- Firearm suicides in 2010
- Firearm homicides among women from 2001 through 2010
- Firearm deaths among children ages 0 to 17, from 2001 through 2010
- Law-enforcement agents feloniously killed with a firearm from 2002 through 2011
- Aggravated assaults with a firearm in 2011
- Crime-gun export rates in 2009
- Percentage of crime guns with a short “time to crime” in 2009
Sources of Information Used In The Gun Violence Study
In this report the Center For American Progress analyzed data from the following sources:
- National Center for Injury Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
Data used in the 10 indices was taken from the years 2001 through 2011.
Top 10 States Ranked By Highest Levels of Gun Violence
Based on an analysis of the above data, the Center For American Progress determined that the following 10 states ranked the highest for the highest levels of gun violence:
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
Aggregate State Rankings For Gun-Violence Outcomes
The Center For American Progress determined the aggregate state rankings for gun-violence outcomes for all 50 states to be as follows:
Out of the top 25 states ranked by aggregate score for gun-violence outcomes, 20 were identified as solid red states. Four states are classified as battleground states during national elections (Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida) and voted blue during the 2008 and 2012 general elections. Michigan was the only swing state out of the top 25.
Overall Firearm Deaths For The Year 2010
The Center For American Progress ranked all 50 states based on overall firearms deaths for the years 2001 through 2010. Here's the list of the 50 states in alphabetical order.
Firearm Homicides In 2010
Every day in the United States, 33 people on average are murdered with a gun. This amounts to roughly one gun murder every 44 minutes According to CDC data, there were more than 11,000 firearm homicides in the United States in 2010—comprising 68 percent of all homicides that year—with a hugely uneven distribution across the states.
Louisiana ranks first in firearm homicides in the country in 2010, with 9.53 gun murders annually for every 100,000 people—more than two-and-a-half times the national average. This is a staggering number considering that 12 states have a rate of less than two homicides annually for every 100,000 people. Indeed, even the state ranked second on this list—Mississippi, with 6.91 gun homicides annually for every 100,000 people—doesn’t come close to Louisiana’s rate.
Where did your home state rank in the above study?
If you would like to learn more about gun violence, state gun regulations, and where the U.S. ranks compared to other countries, I urge you to read my blog posts dated December 14, 2012 and December 21, 2012, August 17, 2012 and December 9, 2010.
Courtesy of an article dated April 3, 2013 appearing in ThinkProgress