But none of them had to die.
- Nearly 60 percent of those gun deaths were suicides.
- About 37 percent were homicides.
- Most of the rest were accidental or undetermined.
Massachusetts had the lowest gun death rate in the country in 2016: About 3.5 per 100,000.
People killed by guns in Massachusetts represent a small fraction of those killed nationally.
Many factors contribute to the prevalence of gun deaths. Rates of gun ownership — also relatively low in Massachusetts — and factors such as geography, education, and availability of health care all contribute.
Yet the death rate in Massachusetts is low not just because of good hospitals and favorable demographics, but also because our laws foster a more careful coexistence with guns. If every state had the same gun death rate as Massachusetts, some 27,000 lives could have been saved.
Our laws could and should go further, but they recognize this much: Focusing on the cause of death — the weapons — is the best chance we have to keep more people alive.
Saving lives is a choice. It’s a choice the people of Massachusetts have made on a bipartisan basis, bit by bit, over decades. In the wake of the latest in a long line of mass killings, people all over the country appear ready to make similar choices. Some 67 percent of the country supports tougher gun laws, the highest level of support in more than three decades.
Here are seven common-sense laws, all of which are consistent with the Second Amendment, and all of which have been shown to make living with guns safer.
If Pennsylvania had the same gun death rate as Massachusetts, about 1,100 fewer people would have been killed by gunfire in 2016.
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