Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Strong Link Between Montana’s Weak Gun Laws and a High Rates of Gun Violence
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Strong Link Between Montana’s Weak Gun Laws and a High Rates of Gun Violence

Report shows that the 10 States with Weakest Gun Laws Collectively Have 3 Times More Gun Violence than the 10 States with the Strongest Gun Laws

Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress report released today has found that Montana ranks ninth in the nation for the overall rate of gun violence.  Montana also ranked particularly high in a few individual categories of gun violence, ranking third in the nation for rates of gun-related suicide and seventh for rates of gun deaths among people younger than 21. 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 Montana.

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.

“There is an unquestionable link between the strength of Montana’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 Montana should strongly consider strengthening gun laws in order to reduce gun deaths and make all of Montana’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.

“In Montana, we know that an unwavering support for the Second Amendment does not mean that we don’t also support common sense solutions to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said State Rep. Ellie Hill. “In fact, 74 percent of Montanans support background checks on nearly every gun sale. Every 55 hours, a Montanan is killed by a gun. As a state legislator and a mom, I am not alone when I say that we Montanans have had enough and we’re not going to back down until the politicians do something to stop this epidemic.”

“This report confirms what we see on the ground almost everyday: women, particularly victims of domestic violence and stalking, are at an unacceptable risk of fatal gun violence,” said Kelsen Young, Executive Director, Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “Sadly, from 2005 to 2014, Montana ranked 16th-worst in the nation for gun homicides against women perpetrated by an intimate partner. More must be done to empower our community to protect these women and their families from this needless gun violence, and our elected leaders must close the gaps in our laws to protect victims of domestic violence.”

The report offers common sense recommendations that policymakers in Montana 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.