Gun Laws Really Do Stop Gun Violence

What’s the use in having gun control laws? Criminals are just going to do what they want with their guns, so the laws are just going to punish responsible gun owners, right? Not so fast…

While that is a common argument by the National Rifle Association anytime common sense gun reform is proposed, researchers on the subject of gun deaths are likely to say otherwise. This week, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a new study that points to gun laws actually helping to decrease the amount of gun violence.

Since gun laws differ widely between states, CAP looked at gun violence on a state-by-state basis. These comparisons were enough to make a telling conclusion: the 10 states with the strongest gun laws had over three times fewer rates of gun violence than the 10 states with the weakest gun laws.

In other words, it appears that sensible restrictions on guns can make a positive impact on violence. Whether or not the “criminals” are deterred by these laws is a separate argument – if you care about staying safe, it seems like you’d want to live in a state with stricter firearm regulations.

To accurately measure violence, CAP looked at data in ten different categories for each state:

  1. Overall gun deaths
  2. Gun suicides
  3. Gun homicides
  4. Gun accidents
  5. Mass shootings
  6. Female homicides committed by romantic partner
  7. Gun deaths of minors
  8. Gun deaths of police officers
  9. Gun deaths by police officers
  10. Guns that were sold in a state, then brought to another state to commit a crime

Each state was ranked, 1-50, in each category, and the scores were combined to make one aggregate score.

Once these scores were tabulated, CAP paid special attention to the states with the strictest gun laws and the laxest gun laws. Almost uniformly, the states with the strongest gun laws had the least violence, while the states that avoided gun laws had a lot more violence.

The states with a lot of gun violence that could use some common sense restrictions stat include Louisiana, Alaska, Mississippi, Wyoming and Arizona. On the flip side, the states that should be looked to as examples for reducing violence through gun restrictions are Massachusetts, Hawaii, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

By CAP’s own acknowledgment, the research depicts a correlation, not causation. With this data, there’s no way to scientifically prove that the gun laws are the reason for the lack of violence, other than the link between the two things being remarkably strong.

As Mother Jones helpfully points out, in the past few years there have been multiple other studies conducted with different methodologies that have led to the same conclusion: gun restrictions do save lives, NRA rhetoric be damned.

For that reason, CAP stands by its findings, and uses the data as a reason to advocate for common sense gun reform in more states. The organization’s suggestions include banning assault weapons, closing the gun show loophole, preventing domestic abusers from owning guns and increasing the penalties for illegal gun traffickers.

All of these ideas sound like good starts to save lives without undermining the Second Amendment.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Winn A
Winn Aabout a year ago

Thank you Anabel for your comment.

Winn A
Winn Aabout a year ago

Will ANYTHING change with this current administration with gun laws? I doubt it.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

We have had guns for years, not a one has ever killed anyone.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo2 years ago

THERE IS A SAYING IN THE UK THAT GOES: Desperate folks pull desperate strokes and America has more than its fair share of DESPERATE FOLKS !!! with access to guns so it stands to reason that take away the guns you reduce the opportunity for desperate folks to perform desperate acts
I appreciate that this simplistic solution would be difficult to achieve so the real answer would be to create a fairer society and spread the enourmous wealth and power of the top 5% who control the world and America

Laurie Mazzeo
Laurie Mazzeo2 years ago


Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago


The report also found a very high correlation between homicide rates and African-American population. Those states with the highest homicide rate (Miss., La, Ala., Md, and S.C.) were in the top six in percent of black population, while those with the lowest rate (Hi, N.H., N.D., S.D., Vt., Ia, Ut., Me., and Id) were at the bottom.

Eric Lees
Eric Lees2 years ago

Ah the age old cherry picking statistics to push an agenda Care2.

Nice disclaimer: "By CAP’s own acknowledgment, the research depicts a correlation, not causation. With this data, there’s no way to scientifically prove that the gun laws are the reason for the lack of violence, other than the link between the two things being remarkably strong.""

Banning so called "assault weapons" does nothing as it is a made up term by the anti 2nd amendment lobby and even the government admitted the previous ban did nothing.

Exhibit A: Chicago, Detroit (any big city)
Exhibit B: Rural America
2 very different ways of living, one has high population density, high murder rates yet very restrictive gun laws.
In the country it's the opposite.
Think people, it's not the guns that are the problem, that's an easy scapegoat. The issues are more complex.

Well I've got to go to work, on site out in a small town in MO.

Son Y.
Son Y.2 years ago

Here's hoping. Those stories of shootings in schools are very scary!

Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini2 years ago

P.S. I agree with Maria Petrillo, profoundly relieved I don't live in your gun-crazy country. How can you bear to live in such a permanent state of fear and suspicion, not to mention real danger from each other?