I just received a press release from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, with respect to their Annual Gun Law Scorecard. Each year, their attorneys track and analyze gun legislation in all 50 states, assigning laws and policies point values. States are ranked and given letter grades, which are then compared to the most recent gun death rates released by the CDC.
“In 2021, a number of state legislatures took the threat of gun violence seriously and passed 75 new laws in 27 states and Washington DC. In the latest edition of the Annual Gun Law Scorecard, Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence graded and ranked each state on the strength of its gun laws, showing that states with stronger gun laws have lower gun death rates and save more lives.
New York received an A- due to its gun safety laws. In 2020, the last year for which data is available, 1,052 people died from firearm injuries in New York, representing a 35% increase in the gun death rate in the state over the previous year. The increase in gun deaths was primarily driven by increases in gun homicides, which comprised 53% of all gun deaths in the state in 2020. From 2019 to 2020, the gun homicide rate rose 75%. The number of firearm suicides remained roughly stable from 2019 to 2020, with 462 such deaths in 2020 and 455 such deaths in 2019. Among the states, New York saw the second largest overall gun death rate increase and the largest gun homicide rate increase.
In 2021, New York passed legislation allowing the gun industry to be held liable for irresponsible and illegal behavior, strengthened investments in community violence intervention programs, and banned the possession, manufacture, or sale of ghost guns. In order to improve its grade, New York should continue to strengthen investments in community violence intervention programs.
‘2021 was yet another year of crisis for our country. Too many communities had to reckon with the trauma and pain of surging gun violence, armed hate, and racial discrimination—all in the midst of the ongoing pandemic,’ said Robyn Thomas, executive director of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. ‘What our Scorecard shows, year after year is that it is possible to take action to end this senseless violence. States with strong gun safety laws have fewer gun deaths—but illegal trafficking leaves residents of these states vulnerable. This progress must extend to every single state across the nation. We hope the Gun Law Scorecard will continue to serve as a resource for our elected officials who understand that getting a passing grade can be a matter of life and death.’
In 2020, over 45,000 people were killed by guns—a number of gun deaths not seen in decades. This sharp spike in gun deaths comes after several years of increasing gun deaths. The Annual Gun Law Scorecard highlights opportunities states have to reverse these devastating numbers. Strengthening background checks, implementing child access prevention laws, investing in community violence intervention programs, and passing extreme risk protection order laws are all policies that can reverse the growing gun death rate.
States with the strongest gun laws have continued taking significant steps to protect their residents from gun violence, including:
California (A): Enacted a law to improve efforts to identify gun dealers who engage in gun trafficking, committed $76 million for local community violence intervention and prevention programming, and made it easier for people who survive domestic abuse to obtain firearm-prohibiting protective orders.
New Jersey (A): Committed $10 million in funding for local community violence intervention and prevention programming.
New York (A-): Passed a first-of-its-kind law that allows people to sue gun dealers and manufacturers when they fail to act responsibly and created a state firearm violence research institute.
Maryland (A-): Enacted a law requiring background checks on long gun purchases and committed significant funding for local community violence intervention and prevention programing.
States with the lowest grades are most responsible for the troubling export of guns used for crimes in other states. These states also put their residents at risk by pushing dangerous policies like “Stand Your Ground,” which allows people to shoot first and ask questions later, and permitless carry, which allows untrained, unvetted people to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. Some of the worst legislation passed in the last year includes:
Iowa (F): Repealed its law requiring background checks on private sales of firearms and allowed people to carry concealed guns in public without safety training or a background check.
Missouri (F): Made law enforcement officers and agencies, public officials, and private individuals personally liable in civil court and subject to a $50,000 fine for enforcing federal gun laws.
Montana (F): Passed a law allowing guns on the campuses of colleges and universities that was later declared unconstitutional.
Visit the Annual Gun Law Scorecard at gunlawscorecard.org
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