The longstanding argument by those who want few if any restrictions on firearms is that the states with the strictest gun laws have the highest number of deaths from gun violence. As it turns out, that is exactly the reverse of what the statistics show.
In a report released on Wednesday, the Violence Policy Center found that in 2011 Louisiana — a state with extremely lax regulations on gun ownership — has once again claimed the dubious title of the state with the highest per capita gun violence rate in the nation. This has been the case since 2001. At 18.91 per 100,000 the state is well above the national average of 10.38 per 100,000.
The next three states trailing just behind Louisiana were Mississippi (17.80), Alaska (17.41) and Wyoming (16.92). All three of these states also have lax gun control laws. Interestingly, the two states often pointed to as examples of how little effect gun control has on crime — New York and New Jersey — rank in the five lowest in per capita gun violence, with rates of 5.11 and 5.46 per capita. If their overall rates of gun deaths seems higher, that’s because they have higher populations.
Executive Director Josh Sugarmann from the Violence Policy Center says:
“Gun violence is preventable, and states can pass effective laws that will dramatically reduce gun death and injury. Our analysis also shows that states with weak gun violence prevention laws and easy access to guns pay a severe price with gun death rates far above the national average.”
There is one single gun control measure which can make a measurable difference, and that is background checks. In states with strict background check requirements, the gun violence rate is sharply reduced. Background checks is not an issue with the voters in Louisiana. Polls have shown that 85 percent of the state’s voters favor the concept of background checks, it is only fear of losing the financial support of entities such as the NRA which prevents lawmakers from doing the will of the people.
One might think that finding themselves once again holding such an unenviable record that the state legislature would consider tightening gun laws, one would be wrong. In the most recent session the legislature considered several measures which would further relax gun control in the state, two of which were recently signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal.
One which takes effect in August allows those with concealed carry permits to carry their weapons into restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages, the other expands the state’s Stand Your Ground law.
Don’t write the state off as a total loss yet though, to counter the easing of restrictions embodied in those two laws the legislature passed and Jindal signed a new restriction on guns which will prevent anyone with a domestic violence conviction from owning a gun for 10 years.
h/t: The Times Picayune