Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
LCPGV. 2020 ‘Ranking State Gun Laws.’ Gun Laws Matter 2012: Understanding the Link Between Weak Laws and Gun Violence. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 25 September
Gun Laws Matter 2012
[All 50 US states are ranked] on 29 policy approaches to regulating firearms and ammunition.
States received points for having smart laws in each policy area, with stronger laws receiving more points. For example, states were awarded points if they have laws that:
- Require background checks on all firearm sales;
- Prohibit the sale of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines; and
- Require law enforcement to evaluate an applicant's alleged need before issuing a concealed handgun license.
States received negative points for having irresponsible measures that increase the likelihood of gun violence. These measures include:
- "Shoot First" laws, which gained national attention after the death of Trayvon Martin because they can prevent law enforcement from prosecuting shooters in public places;
- "Firearms Freedom Act" laws, which declare that federal gun laws do not apply to firearms manufactured and sold within a state's borders; and
- Laws that prevent doctors from informing their patients about the health risks associated with firearm ownership.
Ultimately, every state was awarded a letter grade indicating the overall strength or weakness of its existing gun laws. Click on each state's initials in the map above to find out more about that state's gun laws. You can also review a description of our methodology for scoring state gun laws:
Ranking State Gun Laws:
10 States with the Strongest Gun Laws:
2. New Jersey
6. New York
9. Rhode Island
10 States with the Weakest Gun Laws:
1. South Dakota
Grading States Gun Laws:
Click on each state's initials in the online map for an analysis of the gun laws in that state.
Static map version: http://smartgunlaws.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/stateranking_FINAL.jpg
[Editor's Note: These rankings are subjective, and rely on the authors' assessment of effective regulation to prevent armed violence.]