States with fewer gun laws among most violent, study finds

By William Selway

Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — States with the least restrictive gun laws are among those with the highest rates of firearm-related violence such as homicides, suicides and assaults, according to a study of national crime data.

Eight of the 10 states with the fewest gun-control laws, including Louisiana, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana and Oklahoma, are among the 25 with the highest rates of violence, according to a study by the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based group that favors tougher weapons curbs. Those with the strictest, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, were among the least violent, according to a ranking based on 10 criteria.

“While the strength of a state’s gun laws is just one factor in the prevalence of gun-related violence in the state and cannot alone account for gun violence, there is a clear link between weak gun laws and high levels of gun violence across the United States,” wrote Arkadi Gerney, Chelsea Parsons and Charles Posner, the authors of the study.

Gerney is a former adviser to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the co-chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The mayor is the majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.

The study is the second in the past month to suggest that stricter gun laws can improve public safety as Congress and states debate whether to impose more hurdles to firearm ownership following the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six educators dead.

An article published by the American Medical Association in March found lower rates of gun-related homicides and suicides in states with the most firearms laws.

President Barack Obama is seeking to press the case for new gun-control measures that have stalled in Congress amid opposition from owners and lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association.

State gun-control efforts have also been slow to advance. While more than 600 bills aimed at restricting access to firearms were introduced this year, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, few have become law.

New York and-Colorado have both approved new gun-control laws this year, while Connecticut lawmakers today approved bans on semiautomatic weapons like the one used in the Newtown shooting. Other states have moved to expand the rights of firearm owners, including South Dakota, where the legislators enacted a law allowing school workers to carry guns on the job.

Michael Hammond, a lawyer with the Gun Owners of America, a Springfield, Va.-based group that lobbies against firearm restrictions, said he doubted the link cited in the Center for American Progress study, mentioning Chicago as an example of a place where gun laws haven’t stopped homicides.

“The most dangerous areas in the country are those with strong gun laws,” he said.

Firearms laws aren’t the only factor that explains the prevalence of violence in states and that some didn’t follow the trend, according to the study. For example, Michigan, with some of the strictest legislation, was the 25th most violent state in the study. Vermont, with some of the most permissive rules, was also among those with the fewest gun-related incidents.

“A state’s gun laws are but one of many factors that influence the rate of gun violence in a state,” the authors of the study wrote, citing other influences, such as the economy and gun trafficking across state lines.

Still, they said, “the correlation between the relative strength or weakness of a state’s gun laws and the rate of various indicators of gun violence in the state, however, should not be overlooked.”

bc-guns-study

More in Local News

Man arrested after police find van full of drugs, cash and guns

An officer on patrol noticed a vehicle by itself in the middle of a WinCo parking lot at 2 a.m.

Jim Mathis, the Vietnam veteran whose Marysville garden was recently featured in The Herald, died Wednesday. Mathis, who suffered from PTSD and cancer, found solace in his beautiful garden. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
Vietnam veteran Jim Mathis found peace in his garden

The Marysville man who served two tours died Wednesday after suffering from cancer and PTSD.

Smith Island habitat restoration cost to rise $1.2 million

The project is intended to increase survival rates for juvenile chinook salmon.

Add deputies and bump taxes a bit, executive proposes

Dave Somers’ Snohomish County budget proposal also would address traffic problems in neighborhoods.

County councilman proposes banning safe injection sites

Nate Nehring says county officials also should find “credible, long-term solutions to addiction.”

Car crashes near Everett after State Patrol pursuit

The driver and a second person in the car suffered injuries.

They chose the longshot candidate to fill a vacant seat

Sultan Mayor Carolyn Eslick will serve as representative for the 39th legislative district.

Bicyclist injured in collision with SUV on Highway 204

A bicyclist was injured Saturday after colliding with a… Continue reading

Police: Officers shoot man during standoff at home

The man placed his arm through a window and pointed a handgun at officers.

Most Read