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Tough gun control laws linked to lower death rates

Photo: An AR-15 style rifle is displayed at a gun shop. Legislation proposed by Sen. Leland Yee would tighten California's current assault weapon ban. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

A San Francisco-based policy center on gun control laws has produced a report that says states with strict gun laws have the lowest gun-related death rates. In contrast, it reports, states with the highest per capita gun death rates have "weak" gun laws.

The study by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is touted by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) as support for his own legislation tightening California's current assault weapon ban. The bill, SB47, would prohibit semiautomatic weapons from having devices that allow them to carry high-capacity magazines or easily be reloaded with multiple rounds of ammunition. A similar version of the bill failed to pass in 2012.

"It is a fact that strong gun laws work and weak laws result in the loss of innocent lives," Yee said.

Yee notes that the law center cited low per-capita gun death rates in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut -- states that the law center identified as having some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

He failed to mention the law center also included California on its list of states with the strongest gun control laws and lowest gun-releated deaths. The center declares California has the toughest gun control laws in the nation and gives the state an "A minus" on its report card, a designation shared only with New Jersey and Massachussetts. 

The highest per-capita gun death rates were in Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi -- states that the law center said have weak gun control laws.

The center was formed by Bay area lawyers in 1993 following an assault weapon rampage at a San Francisco law office that ended with 10 people dead and six wounded.

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--By Paige St. John in Sacramento

Photo: An AR-15-style rifle is displayed at a gun shop. Legislation proposed by Sen. Leland Yee would tighten California's assault weapon ban. Credit: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

 
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