November 13, 2018


I looked for a state that's taking gun violence seriously. I found Massachusetts. (German Lopez, Nov 13, 2018, Vox)

Over the past few months, mass shootings have repeatedly propelled gun violence into the national spotlight. Meanwhile, studies have found that the US leads developed nations in gun deaths, with one recent study in JAMA finding that the US's civilian gun death rate is nearly four times that of Switzerland, five times that of Canada, 35 times that of the United Kingdom, and 53 times that of Japan.

Yet there's been little movement, at least at the federal level, to do something about these trends in the US.

But surely, I thought, there's some place in the US getting this right, which could perhaps show a path forward for the rest of the country. So I asked gun policy researchers and experts about which state is doing the most to prevent gun violence. They pointed not to states like New Hampshire and others that have weak restrictions on firearms, but to Massachusetts, which over time built one of the most comprehensive gun control regimes in the US.

In particular, experts honed in on Massachusetts's gun licensing system, which treats the ability to own and use guns much like the ability to own and use a car: with license and registration required.

The system, experts said, is one of the major reasons Massachusetts consistently reports the lowest gun death rates in the US. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, Massachusetts had 3.6 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2016. In comparison, the top three worst states for gun deaths in the country -- Alaska, Alabama, and Louisiana, all of which have loose gun laws -- each had more than 21 gun deaths per 100,000 people.

As David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, put it, "All other things equal, [places] where there's strong laws and with few guns do much better than places where there's weak laws and lots of guns."

Posted by at November 13, 2018 1:51 PM