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Confronting the Inevitability Myth: How Data-driven Gun Policies Save Lives from Suicide

September 15, 2017

The evidence is clear: firearm access contributes greatly to suicide rates, with guns accounting for nearly half of all suicide deaths but just 5% of suicide attempts. As dispiriting as this statistic may be, beneath it lies hope—by taking steps to prevent suicidal people from accessing guns, the most lethal means of suicide, we can make a lifesaving difference. The solutions are already there. We just have to implement them. Confronting the Inevitability Myth represents the culmination of a yearlong project by the attorneys at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence to study and analyze suicide in America. We took a hard look at the numbers and the harrowing stories behind them, and identified the smart gun laws and intervention programs that are most effective at saving lives from suicide. And when you ensure that a person in mental crisis doesn't get their hands on a gun, you really are saving a life. As you'll learn in the coming pages, most people who attempt suicide with methods other than a firearm survive, and most survivors never attempt suicide again, going on to live long lives and contribute positively to society. In other words, the idea that suicide is inevitable is a myth, and a deadly one at that. We hope that this report will help dispel this myth, spark conversation, and motivate lawmakers and community leaders to adopt the strategies proven to prevent gun suicide.This report has detailed important steps our leaders should take today to dispel inevitability myth and save more lives. These data-driven best practices are just a start, but they chart a clear path to progress and prevention. The time to act on them is now.

2016 Gun Law State Scorecard

January 1, 2017

The premise of the Law Center's annual Gun Law State Scorecard is simple. Our legal experts evaluate every state's gun laws, assign grades, and compare those grades with the state's most recent gun death rate. Consistently, we see a powerful correlation: states with stronger laws have fewer gun deaths per capita while states with weaker laws have more gun deaths. 2016 brought increased public outcry over gun violence, as well as real progress at the state level, with a flurry of new gun laws passed, including ballot initiatives in three states. But, with 25 states scoring an F for their gun laws, clearly there is so much more work to be done. Use the map above to see how your state stacks up and learn about the steps your lawmakers can take to save lives in 2017.

2015 Gun Law State Scorecard

December 19, 2015

Gun violence is an epidemic in this country. Over 117,000 Americans are shot every year, with 33,000 dying -- a rate that dwarfs every other industrialized nation. Adding insult to injury is the fact that we know so much of this pain is preventable. How do we know that? We've done the research.Each year, the legal experts at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence analyze the strength of gun laws in all 50 states and assign letter grades. Then we compare those grades to the states' gun death rates. Year after year, we've seen a powerful correlation: states with stronger laws have fewer gun deaths per capita while states with weaker laws have more gun deaths. And interstate gun trafficking has become a contagion -- states with the weakest laws are also the source of the most crime guns. Simply put, smart gun laws are saving lives. But to reach their full potential, those laws urgently need to be adopted nationwide.

Commonsense Solutions: State Gun Laws to Protect Kids from Unintended Shootings

June 24, 2015

This report provides a series of proposals that state legislators should enact in their states to help protect children from improperly stored firearms. These proposals include:Requiring adults to keep guns properly locked up or under their immediate control, whenever they have a reason to know a child is present or might have access to the area;Requiring gun dealers to ensure that all gun buyers, including buyers of rifles or shotguns, are provided with a gun lock or other safety device;Ensuring that appropriate safety information accompanies the sale or transfer of every gun by a licensed gun dealer;Prohibiting adults from allowing children to handle machine guns, even if they are supervised, due to the unusually dangerous nature of these weapons.This report provides arguments in support of these proposals, along with the legal and factual background for each proposal. It also provides a list of the features that make up a strong law on each topic. Too many families have needlessly suffered the horrific loss of a child due to an unsecured gun. It is our hope that this report will provide a "toolkit" for legislators and advocates who want to move forward to help prevent unintended gun deaths of children.

Annual Gun Law State Scorecard 2014

December 12, 2014

Every year, more than 30,000 Americans die from gun violence. But there's more to the story. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has been fighting for smart gun laws for over 20 years, and we've noticed a trend: the states with stronger gun regulation have lower gun death rates, and the states with weaker regulation have higher gun death rates.By grading all 50 states on their gun laws and showing the clear correlation between smart gun laws and reduced gun violence, we can encourage state legislators to adopt the common-sense solutions that will save lives. And not just at home -- we found that states with the weakest gun laws are also responsible for trafficking the most crime guns.We grade the states each year to urge our leaders to build on the momentum for smart gun laws in America, stand up to the gun lobby, and not rest until the entire country has an A+.

Commonsense Solutions: State Laws to Expand Background Checks for Unlicensed Gun Sales

December 9, 2014

While most American gun owner take their responsibilities seriously, the constant news reports about shootings demonstrate that dangerous people can access guns too easily. These dangerous people often obtain guns through a gap in our nation's gun laws -- the loophole for unlicensed sales -- which enables many gun sellers to avoid conducting background checks. This report describes how criminals and other dangerous people exploit this loophole in the federal law. They know that, in many states, they can attend a gun show or search online and easily find people willing to sell a gun without a background check. It doesn't have to be this way. Requiring a background check before the sale or transfer of a gun is a commonsense solution to this problem that respects the rights of law-abiding, responsible gun owners, and protects public safety. As of December 2014, the following 18 states have extended a background check requirement to at least some unlicensed gun sales. This product provides arguments in support of this proposal, along with the legal and factual background. It also provides a list of the features of a strong law on this topic. It is our hope that this report will provide a "toolkit" for legislators and advocates who want to move forward with closing the loopholes in the background check system in their states and communities.

Commonsense Solutions: State Laws to Address Gun Violence Against Women

October 9, 2014

The vast majority of American gun owners are responsible and abide by the law. However, guns do not belong in the hands of domestic abusers and other people known to violently target women or others in relationships. When an abuser has access to firearms, the victim is 500 percent more likely to be murdered. Unfortunately, the federal laws intended to reduce domestic abusers' access to guns are filled with loopholes. These federal provisions do not apply to many known abusers, and states have sometimes struggled to effectively enforce these laws even when they do apply. The result is a constant stream of news reports about women and others killed by abusers with guns. States must take action to prevent further tragedies. This report provides a series of proposals that state legislators should consider enacting in their states to help protect women and families in abusive situations. These policies go beyond current federal law, but have been proposed in Congress.

Commonsense Solutions: How State Laws Can Reduce Gun Deaths Associated with Mental Illness

August 15, 2014

Guns in the hands of the dangerously mentally ill have taken the lives of too many people. Mass shootings, like the shooting in a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona in January 2011, and the shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July 2012, have brought this problem to the attention of the American public. Experts have objected to the media's emphasis on mentally ill mass shooters, because mental illness is not the cause of most forms of gun violence toward others. Nevertheless, mental illness certainly plays a role in this violence, as the recent surge in mass shootings demonstrates. In fact, mental illness plays an even greater role in gun suicides, many of which could be averted if guns were temporarily removed from the situation. Existing state laws do not do enough to remove access to guns from dangerously mentally ill people. This report provides a series of proposals that state legislators should consider to address this problem and save lives.

2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter

January 23, 2014

State gun laws fill enormous gaps that exist in our nation's federal laws, and help to reduce gun violence and keep citizens safe. In part because these laws help to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and aid law enforcement in solving gun crimes, many of the states with the strongest gun laws also have the lowest gun death rates. Because state laws differ widely, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence have teamed up to evaluate and compare the laws of all fifty states, as they have both done in years past. Together, we have ranked all fifty states based on thirty policy approaches to regulating guns and ammunition, such as background checks on gun sales, reporting lost or stolen firearms, and prohibiting dangerous people from purchasing weapons.States received points for having effective laws in each policy area, with stronger laws receiving more points. States lost points for irresponsible measures that increase the likelihood of gun violence, such as laws that allow individuals to carry loaded, concealed weapons in public without a permit. Ultimately, every state was awarded a letter grade indicating the overall strength or weakness of its gun laws.Because so many states enacted strong new laws in 2013, several states received a higher grade than in past rankings. Thanks to new laws enacted in 2013, six states' grades improved compared to the Law Center's 2012 publication Gun Laws Matter.

Gun Safety & Public Health: Policy Recommendations for a More Secure America

September 9, 2013

This reportr describes the public health approach to reducing gun violence, including policy recommendations.

The California Model: Twenty Years of Putting Safety First

July 1, 2013

In the last two decades, with the Law Center's dedicated team of attorneys leading the way, California has become a national leader in the movement for effective gun laws. The rate of gun violence in California has also fallen notably compared to rest of the country. Today, California has the ninth lowest gun death rate of any state nationwide when twenty years ago, it had the thirty-fifth lowest rate. California has taken a comprehensive and courageous approach to addressing the epidemic of gun violence, and that approach has succeeded. The state's strong gun laws not only help save lives, but also reduce the trafficking of illegal guns to other states and to Mexico, protecting lives in neighboring communities.This publication examines the history of success in enacting smart gun laws in California and how those laws have contributed to a significant drop in gun death rates in the state.

Gun Laws Matter 2012: Understanding the Link Between Weak Laws and Gun Violence

November 14, 2012

We hear stories of gun violence every day. Domestic disputes turning deadly. Street crimes taking the lives of innocent people. Mass shootings wreaking havoc in our public spaces. Suicides and fatal accidents devastating families across the country. The unrelenting toll of America's gun violence epidemic leaves 100,000 people injured or killed every year in communities nationwide. But while the number of people affected by this crisis is staggering -- 86 people die by guns every single day -- it's almost equally shocking to find that legislators nationwide aren't doing everything in their power to prevent the killings. Plenty of widely supported policies can reduce gun violence, but, in many states, they aren't being adopted. In fact, a number of states have chosen to pass measures that actually make it more difficult for law enforcement, doctors, and local officials to work to reduce gun deaths and injuries.