The Boston Globe reports that variation in state gun laws may be complicating law enforcement efforts, especially in regions such as New England, where states are split between restrictive and largely hands-off approaches to gun ownership. Authorities in Massachusetts, with some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, recovered 1,737 firearms used in crimes during 2011. Of the 1,020 firearms that the ATF traced to their state of origin, just 351 originated in Massachusetts.
About 250 of the 1,020 guns traced came from nearby states with less restrictive gun laws, including 133 from New Hampshire and 79 from Maine. Questions about the state-by-state differences in gun laws are getting new attention following the recent attack in a Colorado theater. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which each year ranks states based on the strength of their gun laws, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island all rank in the top 10 — third, fourth, and ninth respectively. Vermont and Maine have what are considered some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation — 46th and 38th. New Hampshire is in the middle of the pack, ranking 24th.