Gun Laws Matter
Chart from Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, www.smartgunlaws.org
The gun industry and the Corporate Gun Lobby have long claimed that we do not need more restrictions on guns. They claim that more guns mean less crime. When we passed our comprehensive gun violence prevention bill in the 2013 Connecticut legislative session, they claimed that this bill would not stop a single gun death.
The kind of claims they make can be difficult to dispute. They often require trying to prove a negative. How do you prove that a given law was responsible for preventing a crime that did not happen?
But here is what we do know. In 2013 gun homicides here were the lowest since 2005.
 Data confirmed with CT Office of Chief Medical Examiner.
72 gun homicides this year (compare that to 115 last year and an average of 96 over the previous five years). That’s a decline of 31% against the previous five year trend. Does this mean that the new gun laws are responsible for that decline? No. We cannot make that direct correlation. But it certainly challenges the claim of the gun industry that our strong gun laws won’t stop a single gun death from happening.
Gun Laws Matter. CT now has the second strongest gun laws in the nation. And of the 10 states with the strongest gun laws, seven are in the top ten for lowest number of Gun Homicides per capita.
In addition to strong gun laws, Connecticut has another strong program to reduce gun violence that appears to be having good effect. The Project Longevity program, initiated two years ago by Governor Malloy, specifically focuses on our three largest cities – Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford – and has been effective. The program targets gun violence in those three cities and is the only statewide program of its kind. Attorney General Eric Holder came to CT in 2012 and endorsed the program. Results have been encouraging. Gun homicides in those three cities typically account for about 75% of the state’s gun homicides. In the two years of the program, gun homicides in those three cities have fallen from 75 in 2011 to 50 in 2013. (See chart below).
While we know that there will always be fluctuations in statistics like these, there is doubtless reason for confidence because this program is becoming a priority of law enforcement, of elected officials, and most importantly, of the community.
Connecticut has become a leader in the fight against gun violence. This is not an intractable problem. If all elements of the community continue to make this a focus area and a priority, CT will become the safest state in the nation in the fight against the epidemic of gun violence.