Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Virginia Ranks 23rd in Nation in New Gun Violence Index
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Report Finds Virginia Ranks 23rd 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 Virginia ranks 23rd in the nation for the overall rate of gun violence. In addition, Virginia ranked particularly high in a few individual measures of gun violence, particularly its rates of gun homicides of women by intimate partners and exporting guns that are used in crimes in other states. 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.

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 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 Virginia should strongly consider strengthening gun laws in order to reduce gun deaths and make all of 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.

“I’m not surprised by the findings in this report. We don’t do enough in Virginia to prevent gun violence, particularly in communities of color and towards women by their intimate partners. Despite evidence that suggests firearms in the hands of those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors often turns deadly, lawmakers haven’t prohibited those persons from owning firearms nor done anything about trafficking of firearms. We can and should do more to protect not only the citizens of the Commonwealth, but also our neighbors, from gun violence,” said Lori Haas, Virginia state director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence.
“This report highlights the problem of gun violence that many of our communities know first hand all too well here in Virginia. We must support those policy changes that will prevent the easy access to firearms and reduce the risk factors in our communities if we are serious about reducing gun violence,” said Virginia Sen. A. Donald McEachin (D-9th).

The report offers commonsense recommendations that policymakers in 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.

View an interactive map.

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