Gun Control in the United States: A Comparative Survey of State Firearm Laws

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Eighteen U.S. states have no minimum age for possession of rifles and shotguns, says a new report by the Open Society Institute and the Funders' Collaborative for Gun Violence Prevention. Minimum ages for possession of long guns and handguns are two of 30 criteria by which the study graded all 50 states. Measuring the strength of states' gun control legislation, the survey looked at laws related to registration of firearms, safety training, regulation of firearm sales, safe storage and accessibility and owner licensing and litigation. The highest scores went to Massachusetts and Hawaii, which respectively earned 76 and 71 points. By contrast, 22 states scored zero or less, with Maine taking the booby prize with minus 10.

The criteria and scoring were based on a hypothetical model inspired by elements of gun control policies in other developed countries and the U.S., with certain criteria bearing more weight than others. Points were deducted from the scores of states that fell below federal standards on the minimum age for gun purchase and possession, that preempted local gun control ordinances, and that banned lawsuits against the gun industry. Extra points were given to those states that exceeded federal standards with background checks. 12 pages. Free. Available online only. Open Society Institute, 400 West 59th St., New York, NY 10019. E-mail: