ST. LOUIS – Gun control laws might look a little different on a state-to-state basis, though one new analysis suggests there’s a stark contrast between both states of the St. Louis Metropolitan area.

GIFFORDS Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence recently released its annual gun law scorecard, evaluating states based on their gun control laws. Missouri received a failing grade in the scorecard, while Illinois received an “A-” grade.

A research team with GIFFORDS, an American advocacy organization promoting gun control, has released an annual gun law scorecard for several years. The scorecard offers grades and ranks for each state on their crimes rates, in addition to their enforcement and strength of gun laws.

“There is no debate. Lawmakers can save lives, reduce violence, and make their states safer by following a simple blueprint: pass gun violence prevention laws,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of GIFFORDS via a news release. “Every year, our scorecard is a reminder to states that progress is possible, but also a reminder of the work we have left to accomplish.”

According to the GIFFORDS scorecard, Missouri has the ninth-highest gun death rate per capita (23.2 per 100,000 people). That’s 58% lower than the national average. GIFFORDS also ranked Missouri fourth-worst out of 50 states for its strength of gun laws.

Meanwhile, Illinois had the 26th-highest gun death rate per capita (16.1 per 100,000 people). That’s 10% higher than the national average. However, GIFFORDS ranked Illinois as the eight-best out of 50 states for its strength of gun laws.

According to GIFFORDS, the data suggests that fewer people per capita die are killed by guns in states with strong gun laws. All but one of the ten states with the highest reported gun deaths rates received an “F” grade. Illinois was one of only eight states to score an “A-” grade or better.

According to data cited in the scorecard from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 49,000 people died from gun violence in 2021.

“Violence takes a devastating toll on our communities,” said Ambler. “Many states listened to their citizens and passed lifesaving gun safety laws, while too many others listened to the gun lobby and passed laws that will undoubtedly endanger their communities.”

In St. Louis, gun violence largely factored into nearly 200 homicides investigated in the city last year. It also gained attention after a mass shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School last year, which St. Louis Police say stemmed from Missouri’s lack of a red flag law.

In Missouri, lawmakers have introduced legislation for and against red flag laws this legislative session, though few bills have progressed with bipartisan backing. Supporters of red flag laws say lives could be saved with stronger enforcement, while critics argue that mental health should be a higher priority than taking guns in preventing gun violence.

GIFFORDS says Missouri lawmakers should consider the following avenues to improve gun control:

  • Reinstate laws requiring background checks and permits to purchase and carry guns
  • Repeal dangerous Second Amendment Preservation Act
  • Pass an extreme risk protection order law
  • Pass domestic violence gun laws

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the “Protect Illinois Communities Act” into law in January, banning the sale of all assault weapons and magazines in the state and requiring owners to register existing guns. Despite some pushback from local sheriff’s offices, it is now an act and Pritzker says there is no option for not complying.

GIFFORDS says Illinois lawmakers should consider the following avenues to improve gun control:

  • Pass a victims’ access to justice law
  • Repeal state preemption law
  • Strengthen child access prevention laws

GIFFORDS says most states have passed a gun safety law over the past decade, with more than 525 enacted nationwide since 2012.