Effective Gun Safety Legislation

While Americans remain sharply divided about gun control, individual proposals are widely favored. The most popular and effective gun control legislation measures, like universal background checks and keeping guns from violent criminals, are supported by 85% of registered voters.

Gun rights and public safety can co-exist.  The majority of gun owners support reasonable restrictions including a requirement for criminal background checks, assault weapon bans,  waiting periods for gun purchase and campus carry bans.

An armed citizenry does not reduce crime.  Among 27 developed countries, there is no significant correlation between guns per capita and crime rate. 

Much firearm violence isn’t a criminal problem but stems from the unregulated distribution of a dangerous consumer product.  Since the 1970s, Congress has explicitly prohibited the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating and overseeing the design of firearms and ammunition; toy guns are regulated by the CPSC.  The 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Guns Act protects gun manufacturers against liability claims.

Strengthening background checks and extreme risk protection orders are among the most effective ways to keep firearms away from dangerous people.  In the three years after Missouri eliminated its permit requirement in 2007, gun homicide rates increased 25%.  The law’s repeal was associated with an increased annual murder rate of 14%. Conversely, Connecticut’s gun homicide rate fell 29% percent in the 18 years after it began requiring permits in 1995.

Stand Your Ground laws increase homicide rates while resulting in no corresponding reduction in criminal activity.  Nonetheless, Florida’s Stand Your Ground legislation was expanded in 2017, shifting the burden of proof to prosecutors in pretrial hearings and removing the requirement that a person must first be attacked in their home or vehicle before using or threatening to use force.

Safety measures reduce firearm deaths.  Massachusetts requires guns to be locked; youth suicides are 35% below the national average.

For More Information: 

America Under Fire: An Analysis of Gun Violence in the United States and the Link to Weak Gun Laws,” Center for American Progress, October 11, 2016.

A Roadmap for Reducing Gun Violence in America [lecture by Dr. Daniel Webster],” Syracuse University, Oct. 13, 2016.

“What Works to Reduce Gun Deaths,” The Economist, May 22, 2018.