Fact check: Do gun regulations result in higher crime?

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(Source: AP) (Source: AP)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

You hear it after just about every mass shooting.

"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Gun rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress and in state capitols across the country, use that statement to justify loosening firearms restrictions.

They often point to violence in cities like Chicago to make their point. Illinois has among the country's strictest gun ownership regulations, but murders in Chicago consistently make headlines.

"How well do firearms regulations work?" gun rights advocates ask. "Just look at Chicago," is their answer.

It is a neat and tidy Q and A, which appears to serve the NRA's purpose -- demonstrating that gun ownership regulations make it harder for good guys to get guns without affecting the ability for bad guys to get guns. The result? Carnage in the streets.

The problem is that scenario is misleading at best.

[MORE: CBS 5 Investigates]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Firearms Mortality database, Illinois actually has fewer firearms deaths than the national average - 9.5 per 100,000 residents. The national average is 11.1 deaths per 100,000.

If you take a look at the entire database, you get a more expanded, and some would say eye-opening view. States that are known for their gun control laws, like Massachusetts, New York and California, have lower firearms death rates than so-called "gun friendly" states like Arizona, Missouri, Wyoming and Alaska.

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[INFOGRAM: Firearm mortality by state]

"We know that stronger gun laws result in fewer deaths by guns," said Geneva Haber, with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

But Haber admits: that message often gets drowned out by the pro-gun lobby and its allies.

"I definitely can pinpoint the NRA as perpetuating this myth," said Haber.

One example from the CDC report compares New York to Arizona. In 2015, which is the most recent year for which data is available, the entire state of New York reported 849 gun deaths. That includes murders, suicides and accidents. During the same year, Arizona reported 970 gun deaths. That means a state with one-third the population of New York had more gun deaths than New York.

[RELATED: Guns in the home can create hazards for kids, adults alike]

The difference between the two states is that it is nearly impossible to legally purchase a firearm in New York. It's not totally impossible, but practically speaking, it's very tough. In Arizona, CBS 5 Investigates legally bought a semiautomatic handgun on the street last year in less than five minutes. No background check required.

[READ MORE: CBS 5 Investigates gun sales on Valley streets]


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Morgan  LoewMorgan Loew is an investigative reporter at CBS 5 News. His career has taken him to every corner of the state, lots of corners in the United States, and some far-flung corners of the globe.

Click to learn more about Morgan .

Morgan Loew
CBS 5 Investigates

Morgan’s past assignments include covering the invasion of Iraq, human smuggling in Mexico, vigilantes on the border and Sheriff Arpaio in Maricopa County. His reports have appeared or been featured on CBS News, CNN, NBC News, MSNBC and NPR.

Morgan’s peers have recognized his work with 11 Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards , two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for investigative reporting, an SPJ First Amendment Award and a commendation from the Humane Society of the United States. Last fall, Morgan was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle, in recognition of 25 years of contribution to the television industry in Arizona.

Morgan is a graduate of the University of Arizona journalism school and Concord Law School. He is the president of the Arizona First Amendment Coalition and teaches media law and TV news reporting at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

When he’s not out looking for the next big news story, Morgan enjoys hiking, camping, cheering for the Arizona Wildcats and spending time with his family at their southern Arizona ranch.

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