The recently released Brady Campaign gun control ranking of all 50 U.S. states from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence drew national attention once more to gun control in California. The study also sought to examine the link between strict gun laws and low gun violence levels. Firearm violence is a highly charged topic these days in the United States. This is especially true in the wake of last year’s tragic mass shootings. However, it is not within the scope of our article to advocate gun prohibition or anything of the sort; today, we will take a cursory glance at the cold, hard data regarding gun law rankings and their potential correlation with gun violence. We also seek to answer the question “do strict firearm laws stop violence in America?”
Do Strict Firearm Laws Stop Violence in America: The Top 3 States with the Strongest Gun Control Laws
The Sunshine State ranked ninth in a 2013 chart of the states with the lowest gun death rate. The other gun-related stats are also very low. In 2010, a total of 1,811 murders occurred here. Out of these murders, 1,257 were caused by firearms. According to the figures, a high rate of 3.4 gun murders occurred per every 100,000 California inhabitants that year. California gun control is notoriously strict. Many pro gun control advocates hold California up as the example for strong gun control. However, the high gun violence statistics belie the concept that strong gun control stops gun related violence.
Connecticut holds the sixth lowest gun death rate in the entire United States for the year 2013. In 2010, the state only experienced 131 deaths. From this total, 97 of the deaths were caused by gun murders. Some 16.7 percent of all inhabitants own guns in this state. However, the rate of gun killings in Connecticut stands at a low 2.7 deaths per every 100,000 people.
3. New Jersey
New Jersey ranks fifth in the ranking of states with the lowest gun death rates for 2013. Out of 100,000 inhabitants, only 2.8 murders took place as a result of gun violence in 2010; the state’s total number of murders is also relatively low (346 in 2010). The tally for gun murders stands at 246 out of a population of nearly 8.8 million that year. New Jersey probably serves as the best example for gun control producing real results in decreased violence.
Do Strict Firearm Laws Stop Violence in America: The Top 3 States with the Strongest Gun Ownership Laws
The number of gun murders that occurred in Alaska in 2010 seems small: 19 homicides from firearms out of a total death count of 31. We must also bear in mind the state’s very low population numbers and density. A little over 710,000 people populate the state with a density of only 1.2 people per square mile. These numbers also add some weight to the seemingly low number of gun murders per 100,000 people. However, the 2.7 gun related homicides for every 100,000 people are pretty much on par with the states with strong gun control. That number is surprising considering how many more people in Alaska own firearms versus New Jersey. That comparison just goes to show that gun related violence is much more complicated than simply banning more weapons. Some people may argue that the index should be lower considering the population of Alaska. But, considering how heavily armed citizens of the state are (over half the population owns a firearm), we feel that an index comparable to New Jersey is quite commendable.
In 2011, the same survey from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention found that Wyoming holds the fourth highest rate of gun violence per-capita. To put this into perspective however, only 8 people total died in 2010. 5 of these deaths came from gun-related incidents. We must also bear in mind that this state actually has a lower population than Alaska (slightly over 563,000). Wyoming scored an incredibly low 0.9 of deaths from firearms per 100,000 inhabitants. So, despite what the CDC may say, the numbers here don’t lie.
The two aforementioned states can invoke low population numbers to explain anomalies in their index rankings. That is clearly not the case for Arizona. With almost 6.4 million inhabitants in 2010, 232 people (out of a total of 352 killed) died in gun-related violence. These figures put the number of gun deaths at 3.6 per 100,000 people! That index stands as one of the highest in the U.S. The other two states hold incredibly low index ranks (albeit with small populations). The same cannot be said for Arizona. As famously expressed by Congress candidate John Galego, there’s a death by gun every day in Arizona. The number is actually 0.72 deaths per day according to 2010 statistics. Sadly, for gun homicides, Arizona occupied an inglorious 11th position in 2011. Some crime experts feel that Arizona’s close proximity to California accounts for some of the violence and death in the state. Nevertheless, Arizona clearly has a significant problem that must be addressed and solved as soon as possible.
So, what can we take away from all of these figures here? First of all, gun control is a highly complicated topic. Blind statistics alone cannot completely tell the story of gun violence in America. More over, the way in which a person interprets these figures can be slanted towards a bias. Several factors contribute to gun violence besides gun ownership in a targeted population (such as high rates of poverty, low education levels, social/racial stratification, economic inequality). Even our short list doesn’t paint the entire picture of gun violence in America. Consider the District of Columbia. DC (which definitively holds the lowest level of legal gun ownership in the entire country) also holds the highest gun violence index rate. DC’s index stands at a shameful 16.5 gun-related murders for every 100,000 citizens (of which there are slightly less than 602,000). Before you begin to believe that the fact that DC is legally unarmed solely contributed to these figures, consider some of these other factors: DC is renowned for its high rates of unemployment/poverty. It also sits between the highly liberal state of Maryland (which also has high levels of gun-related violence and incredibly strict gun control laws) and the highly conservative state of Virginia (which has very lax gun regulations and a prevalence of firearms). More than likely, all of these factors contribute to make DC the hotbed of gun-related violence we know it as. This is my roundabout way of answering the original question posed for this post: Do Strict Firearm Laws Stop Violence in America. I don’t believe so. I think that numerous factors influence this issue and that gun ownership is merely a small piece in the puzzle that is gun violence in America.