After the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, President Barack Obama made a statement from the White House, rattling off the names of other communities where similar gun violence has occurred. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood, Tucson, Aurora, Sandy Hook, Navy Yard, Isla Vista, Charleston and now Roseburg – all have become familiar touchstones in America's complex relationship with guns, violence and regulations.
As he has done previously, Obama asserted that the Roseburg shootings meant Congress and state governments need to reexamine laws that deal with gun safety and background checks. Using data from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign, InsideGov looked at how gun laws differ by state.
The two groups, which both advocate for more effective gun laws, rate states on a scale of 0 to 100 according to how stringent their firearm laws are, with 0 being not strict and 100 being the strictest.
In the above graph, points that are higher up along the Y axis indicate more gun deaths, and points further to the right along the X axis indicate stricter gun laws. The data confirms that, on the whole, stricter gun laws do result in fewer gun deaths.
But some cases run counter to the overall trend. Take California, for example, which sports the highest gun law score at 89. The Golden State has 7.9 deaths per 100,000 – the eighth-lowest in the country. But when consulting an L.A. Times list of the deadliest mass shootings in the U.S., the most instances occurred in California. Nine mass shootings have taken place in California since 1984 (Texas comes in second, with four occurrences).
Although California is among the largest and most populated states, the total number of mass shootings there is an outlier. For example, California's population is almost two times that of Florida, but Florida has been the site of only one mass shooting in the last 34 years.
While an overall look at the data suggests that stricter gun laws mean fewer gun-related deaths, exceptions like the number of mass shootings in California are important to note. Perhaps more than anything, the California exception shows just how complicated a topic this is for Americans – and shows why finding consensus on appropriate gun legislation continues to be a challenge.
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A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Aryanna Williams, 6, and Mickey Deustch, 8, of Las Vegas, Nevada attend a vigil on the Las Vegas strip for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
People attend a candlelight vigil at the University of Las Vegas student union October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Mourners hold up signs during a vigil in Washington, DC on June 12, 2016, in reaction to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Fifty people died when a gunman allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Florida, in the worst terror attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the countryÃs history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 12: A guest holds a sign remembering the Orlando Massacre at the LA PRIDE Music Festival and Parade 2016 on June 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)
BLACKSBURG, VA - APRIL 17: Thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil on the campus of Virginia Tech April 17, 2007 in Blacksburg, Virginia. According to police, English major Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a native of South Korea, went on a shooting rampage that left a total of 33 people dead. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LITTLETON, CO - APRIL 20: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Columbine high school shooters Eric Harris (L) and Dylan Klebold appear in this video capture of a surveillance tape released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department in the cafeteria at Columbine High School April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO during their shooting spree which killed 13 people. (Photo courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)
Fort Hood, Texas, 13 killed
KILLEEN, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Sgt. Fanuaee Vea embraces Pvt. Savannah Green while trying to reach friends and family outside Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 in Killeen, Texas. At least one gunman killed 12 people and injured 31 in a shooting on a military base at Fort Hood this afternoon. One shooter was killed by military police and at least two other soldiers are in custody. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)