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GIFFORDS Annual Scorecard Confirms Gun Laws Save Lives

GIFFORDS Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard grades and ranks all 50 states on their gun laws; 26 states received an F.

Washington DC—GIFFORDS Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released its Annual Gun Law Scorecard, which grades and ranks each state on its gun laws, and found that 26 states received a F. This comprehensive, 50-state analysis clearly shows fewer people per capita die are killed by guns in states with strong gun laws. 2022 marked the 10 year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook—and since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly every single state has passed a gun safety law, with more than 525 enacted nationwide. 

Visit the Annual Gun Law Scorecard at

“Last year, we saw some of the worst mass shootings in American history in Uvalde and Buffalo. In 2021, a record-breaking 48,830 people were killed by guns. This violence takes a devastating toll on our communities. Many states listened to their citizens and passed lifesaving gun safety laws, while too many others listened to the gun lobby and passed laws that will undoubtedly endanger their communities,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of GIFFORDS. 

“There is no debate. Lawmakers can save lives, reduce violence, and make their states safer by following a simple blueprint: pass gun violence prevention laws. Every year, our scorecard is a reminder to states that progress is possible, but also a reminder of the work we have left to accomplish. The Gun Law Scorecard should be both a resource and roadmap for elected leaders, activists, and concerned citizens to take action,” Ambler added.

In 2021, the most recent year for which CDC gun death rates are available, more than 116 people died each day from gun violence, resulting in nearly 49,000 total gun deaths. The Annual Gun Law Scorecard highlights the opportunity states have to reverse these numbers. Requiring background checks and gun owner licensing, funding community violence intervention programs, and passing extreme risk protection order laws, among other laws,are all policies that can reverse the growing gun death rate.

Of the 10 states with the lowest gun death rates, seven have some of the strongest gun laws in the country, receiving a B+ or better on this year’s Gun Law Scorecard

(Beginning with the lowest gun death rate)

  • Massachusetts (A-)
  • Hawaii (A-) 
  • New Jersey (A)
  • New York (A-)
  • Rhode Island (B+)
  • Connecticut (A-) 
  • New Hampshire (F)
  • California (A)
  • Minnesota (C+)
  • Nebraska (C) 

Of the 10 states with the highest gun death rates, nine received F grades on this year’s Scorecard.

Despite powerful data demonstrating the correlation between gun law strength and gun death rates, several states have ignored public cries for action and done little or nothing to strengthen their gun laws in recent years. 

(Beginning with the highest gun death rate)

  • Mississippi (F)
  • Louisiana (F)
  • New Mexico (C+)
  • Alabama (F)
  • Wyoming (F)
  • Alaska (F)
  • Montana (F)
  • Arkansas (F)
  • Missouri (F)
  • Tennessee (F)

Gun Owner Licensing Is Popular and Essential to Saving Lives

The data is clear—states that require prospective gun purchasers or owners to pass a background check and obtain a license save lives. When Connecticut passed a licensing law, its firearm homicide rate decreased by 28% and its firearm suicide rate decreased by 33%. In contrast, when Missouri repealed its licensing law, its firearm homicide rate increased by an astonishing 47%, and its firearm suicide rate increased by 24%. 

Gun owner licensing can also prevent mass shootings: states that require people to apply for a license in-person or get their fingerprints taken have a remarkable 56% fewer fatal mass shootings. Furthermore, states that require licenses have far fewer guns diverted to criminal use. 

Despite the enormous benefits of gun owner licensing to gun violence prevention, only 12 states require some or all gun owners to get a license to purchase or possess firearms. Oregon is the most recent state to pass this policy, by voter initiative in 2022. 

As demonstrated in Oregon, support for this policy is strong. A 2019 survey found that 77% of Americans support purchasing license laws. This support includes more than two-thirds of gun owners.

Experts Available for Comment:

  • Peter Ambler, Executive Director, GIFFORDS
  • Allison Anderman, Senior Counsel and Director of Local Policy, GIFFORDS Law Center


Our experts can speak to the full spectrum of gun violence prevention issues. Have a question? Email us at




The data is clear: states with stronger gun laws have less gun violence. See how your state compares in our annual ranking.

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