Changing America

Here are the best and worst states for gun safety

A customer checks out a hand gun
A customer checks out a hand gun that is for sale and on display at SP firearms on June 23, 2022, in Hempstead, N.Y. AP Photo/Brittainy Newman, File

Story at a glance

  • The Giffords Law Center produces an annual scorecard grading states on their gun laws.

  • California and New Jersey earned the highest grades for gun safety in the latest ranking.

  • Arkansas, Wyoming and Idaho received the lowest.

California ranks highest for gun safety among the states, while Arkansas ranks the lowest, according to an annual gun law scorecard.

The Giffords Law Center, founded by former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), provides an annual ranking of all 50 states based on the strength of their gun laws. 

California and New Jersey sit at the top of the list this year with “A” grades, while Connecticut comes in third with an “A-.” 

These states have some of the lowest rates of gun deaths in the country, coming in at 9 per 100,000 people in California, 5.2 in New Jersey and 6.7 in Connecticut, according to data pulled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Arkansas, Wyoming and Idaho rank at the bottom of the Giffords Law Center’s scorecard, receiving “F” grades for their gun laws. However, just over half of all states received failing grades.

Arkansas and Wyoming have some of the highest rates of gun deaths in the country, at 23.3 and 26.1 per 100,000 people, respectively, while Idaho sits in the middle of the pack with 16.3 per 100,000.

The Giffords Law Center emphasized the correlation between weakening gun laws and rising gun deaths, noting that 17 of the 20 states with the highest rates of gun deaths also received a failing grade on its scorecard.

The annual gun law scorecard comes in the wake of a school shooting in Nashville, Tenn., this week that left three 9-year-old students and three staff members dead. Tennessee was ranked 38th on the scorecard and received an “F” grade.

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