© 2024 Aspen Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Strength of gun laws in the Mountain West are all over the map, analysis finds

In 2020, there were nearly 14 firearm deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S., according to RAND Corporation.
Adobe Stock
In 2020, there were nearly 14 firearm deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S., according to RAND Corporation.

Giffords Law Center, a gun safety group started by Arizona lawmaker Gabby Giffords after she was shot in 2011, graded states on the strength of their gun laws. It gives laws and policies point values based on their strengths or weaknesses, then ranks each state and assigns letter grades.

The group gave an F to 21 states, including five in the Mountain West: Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Arizona.

Allison Anderman, senior counsel and director of local policy at Giffords Law Center, said those states have dangerous gun policies, “like allowing people to not only buy a gun without a background check, but carry it in public, without any sort of background check or firearm safety training.”

States in the region that do require universal background checks are New Mexico (C+), Nevada (B-), and Colorado (A-).

According to Giffords Law Center, Colorado has the “most improved” gun law strength in the country, going from a B last year to an A- this year. In the last year, the state imposed a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases, and raised the minimum age to buy a gun to 21. It also enacted a relatively new gun law “that allows people who have been harmed by reckless gun dealers and other actors in the gun industry to sue them,” Anderman said.

In all, the center’s report shows that states with stronger gun laws have lower gun death rates, she added.

To that end, Wyoming ranked last in gun law strength, and had the nation’s 11th-highest gun death rate (20.6 deaths per 100,000 people), and Idaho ranked 46th in law strength and had the 18th-highest death rate (17.5 per 100,000).

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2024 KUNR Public Radio. To see more, visit KUNR Public Radio.

Kaleb Roedel