RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Strong Link Between West Virginia’s Weak Gun Laws and a High Rates of Gun Violence
Washington, D.C. — A new Center for American Progress report released today has found that West Virginia ranks fourth in the nation for the overall rate of gun violence. West Virginia also ranked particularly high in a few individual categories of gun violence, ranking first in the nation for rates of crime gun exports and second for rates of mass shootings. 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 West Virginia.
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 West Virginia’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 West Virginia should strongly consider strengthening gun laws in order to reduce gun deaths and make all of West Virginia’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.
Karan Ireland of the Charleston City Council said:
I am heartbroken to see that our beautiful Mountain State—home to so many wonderful people—ranks so high on this list; but it’s no surprise that a state with weakened gun laws has a higher rate of gun violence. Statewide polling has shown that most West Virginians opposed the weakening of concealed carry laws. But, while the majority of West Virginians and Americans see the need for common sense gun legislation, our lawmakers have gone out of their way to cater to special interest groups in loosening these regulations—going so far as to ignore the pleas of law enforcement officers from across the state! Only when the majority raise their voices above the din of the small, but loud, few, will elected leaders make common sense gun policy a priority. And, only then will we see a reversal of this terrible trend. Until then, too many West Virginians will continue to be affected by the horror of gun violence.
The report offers commonsense recommendations that policymakers in West Virginia 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.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.7141.