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Fewer Guns Mean Fewer Deaths

Gun Nation Study says lower rates of ownership and strict laws reduce gun deaths

Hartford Courant

June 16, 2010

Connecticut, thankfully, is one of the five states with the lowest per capita rates of gun deaths. The reasons may seem obvious.

An analysis of just-released 2007 federal data by the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit that works to reduce gun violence, found that states with lower gun ownership rates and strong gun laws have the lowest rates of overall gun fatalities.

With a household gun ownership of 16.2 percent and a gun death rate of 4.27 per 100,000, Connecticut ranked fourth behind Hawaii, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and ahead of New York, among the states with the fewest per capita gun deaths. All were well below the national average of 10.34 per 100,000, and all are credited with having strong gun laws.

At the other end of the spectrum, Louisiana, where 45.6 percent of households report owning guns, the death rate was 19.87 per 100,000. The next three states, Mississippi, Alaska, Alabama, all have gun ownership rates in excess of 50 percent and gun death rates in the range of 17 to 18 per 100,000.

The study would appear to challenge the notion, sometimes proffered by the gun lobby, that we'd all be safer if everyone had a gun. The more guns, this study indicates, the more gunshot wounds.

The challenge is to balance legal gun ownership with the daunting need to keep guns out of the wrong hands. We have a long way to go; guns are way too easy to get, even for terrorists. The New Republic reported this month that from 2004 to 2010, 1,225 gun purchases sought by people on the terrorist watch list were submitted for a federal background check, and 91 percent were approved. And in most of the past 30 years, there have been more suicides than homicides with guns. Is it a good idea to keep a gun in the house?

The Violence Policy Center analysis tells us to keep trying, that background checks for buyers and sales people, registration requirements, waiting periods and other laws do help.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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