Film and Discussion Series

State and Regional Overview

Gun violence in the US varies by state. Alaska has the highest gun violence death rate (25/100,000) and some of the weakest gun laws.  Hawaii has the lowest gun violence death rate (2/100,000) – 1/10 the rate of Alaska – and some of the country’s strongest gun laws.

Strong state gun laws include laws such as background checks on all gun sales, closed loopholes that allow domestic abusers to access guns, and community violence interruption programs.  Some states with strong gun laws – like Illinois (IL) – are undermined by neighboring states with weak gun laws. For example, more than half the guns used in crimes in IL come from nearby states.

In 2019, 23 states passed 55 life saving gun laws including:

  • Expanding/strengthening background check laws
  • Improved laws to prevent child access to guns
  • Funds for community violence reduction programs
  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders

In addition, 41 gun lobby bills to weaken gun laws were defeated such as:

  • Permitless Carry (no permit required for carrying concealed weapon in public)
  • Guns in K-12 Schools
  • Guns on Campus

Unfortunately, fifteen states passed 18 gun lobby laws to weaken gun laws such as:

  • Making it easier for people to carry hidden guns in public without a permit
  • Restricting ability of local governments to regulate guns

Source for above information: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (highly respected website for information on gun violence in the US)

Other resources

States United to Prevent Gun Violence: States United is a grassroots network of 32 state affiliates working to make our communities and families safer.

Guns and America at WAMU: Guns & America is a groundbreaking national reporting collaborative in which 10 public media newsrooms examine the role of guns in American life.