Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Pennsylvania Ranks 28th in Nation in New Gun Violence Index
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Pennsylvania Ranks 28th in Nation in New Gun Violence Index

Gun Violence Index Measures Average Rate of Gun Violence Across 10 Indicators

Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress report released today has found that Pennsylvania ranks 28th in the nation for the overall rate of gun violence, with notably high rates of gun-related homicides, law enforcement officers killed with guns, and gun deaths of people younger than age 21.

The report analyzes 10 specific indicators of gun violence in all 50 states and found that the 10 states with the weakest gun laws collectively have levels of gun violence that are more than three times higher than  the 10 states with the strongest gun laws. The Center for American Progress has also published an interactive map that links to state specific fact sheets providing detailed information about gun violence in Virginia.

“There is an unquestionable link between the strength of a state’s  gun laws and the rates of gun violence in the state,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President for Guns and Crime Policy at CAP. “While strong gun laws are certainly not the only factor impacting levels of gun violence, it is undeniable that Americans in states with stronger gun laws are safer from gun violence than those in states with weaker laws. Lawmakers in Pennsylvania should strongly consider strengthening gun laws in order to reduce gun deaths and make all of Pennsylvania’s communities safer.”

The report looks at 10 critical indicators of gun violence in the United States, including overall gun deaths; gun suicides, homicides and accidents; mass shootings; intimate partner gun homicides of women; gun deaths of people younger than age 21; law enforcement feloniously killed with a gun; fatal shootings by police; and the rate at which crime guns are exported. By comparing the data from all 50 states to the corresponding grade from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s “2015 State Law Scorecard”—which rates the strength of state gun laws—the report found a striking correlation between the strength of a state’s gun laws and the rates of gun violence in that state.

“This report shines a light on the urgency for action from the General Assembly on a policy issue that has reached a critical mass. We as a body cannot stand silent any longer while the cold hard facts stare us in the face. With statistics that show that Pennsylvania is one of 21 states where firearms deaths outnumber deaths from car accidents, we must move to enact commonsense measures that will prevent gun violence and protect citizens,” said Rep. Ed Gainey, who represents the 24th Legislative District (D-Allegheny) in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA said, “The facts highlighted in this report demonstrate that Pennsylvania should be ashamed: The levels of gun violence—particularly against people of color, women, and even law enforcement officers—are staggering. We can and should do better, and we have the tools to do so. Pennsylvania should be striving to be among those states at the bottom of the gun violence index. But instead of working to expand background checks, ensure that domestic abusers surrender their firearms, and taking steps to protect our communities, our legislature spends valuable time in service to the gun lobby and its efforts to dismantle the Pennsylvania background check system and punish towns that work to make their communities safer.”

The report offers commonsense recommendations that policymakers in Pennsylvania should consider to reduce gun violence, including closing the private sale loophole and requiring background checks for all gun sales, prohibiting domestic abusers and stalkers from gun possession, banning or more strictly regulating assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and investing in community-based violence prevention programs.

Click here to read the report.

View an interactive map.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.