Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2023 ‘Why We Grade the States.’ 2015 Gun Law State Scorecard. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 8 December
2015 Gun Law State Scorecard: Why We Grade the States
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…
How we grade the States
The Law Center has over 20 years of experience tracking, analyzing, and evaluating gun laws. We used that expertise to develop a comprehensive point system to measure the relative strength of state gun laws.
Requiring universal background checks received the most points because closing the private sale loophole has the best potential to keep guns out of dangerous hands and save lives. States earned points for other smart gun laws, such as prohibiting domestic violence offenders from accessing guns, limiting bulk firearms purchases, and preventing people on the terror watchlist from buying guns.
States lost points for laws that weaken public safety, such as permitting guns in schools and bars, "Stand Your Ground" laws that remove accountability from deadly shootings, and allowing concealed carry in public without a permit. Especially dangerous are preemption laws, where states prohibit local governments from passing their own gun ordinances.
After tallying points, we ranked the states accordingly and assigned letter grades. States that enacted lifesaving gun reforms in 2015, like Oregon and Delaware, increased their point totals from last year, while points fell for states that weakened their laws. For our comparison with state gun death rates, we used the CDC's Fatal Injury Report.
New Hampshire: D
New Jersey: A-
New Mexico: F
New York: A-
North Carolina: F
North Dakota: F
Rhode Island: B+
South Carolina: F
South Dakota: F
West Virginia: D-
[Editor's Note: These rankings are subjective, and rely on the authors' assessment of effective regulation to prevent armed violence.]