"If we fixed all the gun laws and, presto, we fixed all the politics, would all the gun homicides go away immediately? Of course not, there are guns out there that people would use," said Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research in Baltimore. "But I tell you it would make a difference over the long haul in a substantial kind of way.
"We need to get beyond the pro-gun, anti-gun shouting match to get to what I think the heart of the matter is and something there's broad agreement on," he added. "Dangerous people shouldn't have guns."
Some states, including Arizona and Georgia, have lax laws that make it easy to buy cheap handguns directly from gun shops, while other states make firearms much harder to get. In New York, Massachusetts and Hawaii, for example, gun-buyers must visit a local law enforcement agency, where they are photographed, fingerprinted and given background checks before they can earn a license to buy guns.
In the few states with the most comprehensive regulations, Webster said, rates of gun-caused deaths are lowest. His research shows that big improvements could come from targeted regulations that focus on keeping guns away from people who probably shouldn't have them in the first place.