Gun Policy in America

A RAND Research Initiative

Gun Policy in America

Facts to support fair and effective gun policies.

Firearms are displayed at a gun shop in Lakewood Township, New Jersey, March 19, 2020, photo by Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Latest update

Adopting Certain Kinds of Laws Could Reduce Firearm Deaths

A new interactive visualization provides information about firearm mortality across U.S. states and demographic groups within states, by gender, race, age, and urbanicity. Users can turn firearm laws on and off nationally to explore RAND estimates of how state laws may contribute to these differences.

Establishing a Shared Set of Facts for America

RAND's Gun Policy in America initiative aims to establish a shared set of facts about the effects of gun laws to improve public discussions and support the development of fair and effective gun policies.

We have created dozens of resources to help build a foundation of shared facts about gun laws in the United States. Get started with a few highlights:

How Gun Policies Affect Outcomes: What the Evidence Shows

We reviewed thousands of studies to find all available evidence for how 18 different gun policies affect outcomes such as violent crime and mass shootings. Below we show which policies may make a difference, according to methodologically robust research. For example, evidence shows that waiting periods may decrease (blue lines) suicide rates and that concealed-carry laws may increase (orange lines) violent crime. The thicker the line, the stronger the evidence.

Click on a policy, outcome, or connecting line to learn more.

GUN POLICIES THAT MAY DECREASE OUTCOMES GUN POLICIES THAT MAY INCREASE OUTCOMES OUTCOMES Prohibitions Associated with Mental Illness Background Checks Prohibitions Associated with Domestic Violence Surrender of Firearms by Prohibited Possessors Child-Access Prevention Laws Waiting Periods Minimum Age Requirements Licensing and Permitting Requirements Bans on the Sale of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines Bans on the Sale of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Magazines Stand-Your-Ground Laws Concealed-Carry Laws Price of Banned Firearms Violent Crime Unintentional Injuries and Deaths Suicide Mass Shootings m a y d e c r e a s e m a y i n c r e a s e supportive evidence limited evidence moderate evidence
  • Gun Ownership in America

    Information about how many Americans own guns, and how this varies over time and across the United States, is important for understanding the effects of gun laws on firearm ownership and other outcomes. Use this tool to explore the estimated household gun ownership rate by state from 1980 to 2016.

  • Gun Policy in America: An Overview

    Americans are often divided on how to improve gun policies. Our research suggests that, among gun policy experts, these divisions are not primarily due to disagreements about what policies should achieve. Instead, the experts disagree on what the real effects of gun policies will be. This essay summarizes what is known and where new information could help build consensus about how to improve U.S. gun policies.

  • Additions and Updates to Gun Policy in America

    Latest updates to the RAND Gun Policy in America Initiative, including key findings from the third edition of The Science of Gun Policy report, which updates our review of available evidence for the effects of gun policies.

  • What Science Tells Us About the Effects of Gun Policies

    There are significant gaps in the available research on the effects of gun policies. However, the strongest evidence suggests laws aimed at preventing children from accessing guns would reduce firearm self-harm, and unintentional injuries and deaths among children.

  • Geographic Disparities in Rising Rates of Firearm-Related Homicide

    The rate of homicides in the United States began increasing in 2014, driven largely by a rise in firearm-related homicides. This study evaluated the extent to which this increase is concentrated among geographic areas or demographic groups.