NewsIn Focus


Mass Shootings and Bans on Assault Rifles

Seven states, including Maryland, ban assault weapons
Posted: 12:21 PM, May 31, 2022
Updated: 2022-05-31 12:21:10-04
California Assault Weapons

BALTIMORE — Maryland is one of seven states in the nation, according to gun control advocacy group Everytown, to have an assault weapons ban on the books.

The other states are California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Hawaii.

Maryland's law went into effect on October 1, 2013.

According to a study done by Northwestern researchers and published in April of last year in JMIR Publications, "The FAWB [Federal Assault Weapons Ban] resulted in a significant decrease in public mass shootings."

So we're digging into the data to understand mass shootings in states that have enacted bans as compared to states that haven't.

The Gun Violence Archive collects data from all gun-related injuries and deaths and mass shootings.

While the website defines a mass shooting as 4 or more people shot, the US Department of Justice defines a mass shooting as 4 or more people killed.

We were able to filter the Gun Violence Archive data to include only mass shootings with 4 or more people killed.

As we continue to keep this issue in focus, we decided to dig in to the mass shooting data, since 2018, and understand where the states that have bans on assault weapons fall.

By the criteria we've laid out, Maryland has only had 2 mass shootings since 2018, putting it on par with New York and New Jersey. Massachusetts had just one mass shooting and Hawaii has had none. Despite it's assault weapons ban, California had the most mass shootings of any state, with 17 since 2018.

We also looked at the number of people killed per state in mass shootings, where California remains at the top with 96 people killed.

Texas is in second place on this list as well, with 86 deaths. Maryland was lower down on the list with 9 deaths.

You can explore those numbers in this graphic:

We can also adjust for population size, as states like California and Texas have larger populations than a state like Maryland.

We do this by dividing the total number of people killed in mass shooting incidents by the Census Bureau's population estimate for 2020 and then multiplying that by 100,000 for a rate per 100,000 people.

This is where, other than California, you can see the states with assault ban weapons are clustered toward the bottom.

While Maryland is second among states that have assault weapons bans, it's 26th overall.

Other than California, which ranks 13th, the other 5 states with assault weapons bans rank in the bottom half of per capita mass shooting deaths in the country.

Neither Hawaii nor Connecticut appear on this graph because neither have had any mass shootings per the definition of 4 or more killed in one shooting.

Here's another graphic for you to explore all of the data together.

Everytown does discuss why Maryland's rate of gun violence is so high, despite the strength of its gun laws.

"Maryland has the seventh-strongest gun laws in the nation but continues to have an unacceptable rate of gun deaths near the national average. Gun violence in Maryland disproportionately impacts communities of color in Baltimore, where nearly 65% of the guns recovered by law enforcement are brought across state lines. Stronger gun laws in surrounding states would help curb gun violence in Maryland; thankfully Virginia, which has long been the top supplier of crime guns into the Old Line State, overhauled its background check laws in 2020."

Note: Washington, D.C. has not been included in this analysis or the rankings as it is not included on the gun control law comparison on Everytown's Research website.