Survey: Gun Laws And Gun Violence

Air Force Honor Guard member folds the flag that draped the casket of Cpl. George Cunningham during funeral service Monday, July 31, 2006 in Farmingdale, N.Y. Cunningham received a full military funeral thanks to such scientific advances as DNA. His plane apparently flew into the side of a mountain after taking off from Dobudura, New Guinea Dec. 10, 1944, but its wreckage went undetected for decades.
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Upcoming anniversaries marking the fiery end of the Waco siege, the Oklahoma City bombing and the killings at Columbine High are all part of the backdrop in America's deepening debate over ways to reduce gun violence.

CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports in depth on a key question: Do gun laws work?

A new study provides ammunition for gun control advocates who believe tough state gun laws save lives.

"Overall certainly the states with the loosest gun laws have high rates of gun deaths," says Rebecca Peters of the Open Society Institute, which conducted the study.

A foundation that promotes gun violence prevention surveyed state gun laws and found Massachusetts has the strictest. And, according to the federal government, Massachusetts also has the nation's lowest gun death rate.

While there are exceptions, there appears to be a pattern. Louisiana -- which researchers found to have virtually no gun laws -- has the highest gun death rate.

"The gun lobby is running a line at the moment that says there are thousands of gun laws out there not being enforced. This study really debunks that notion in terms of preventative gun laws, there are very few gun laws out there," says Peters.

All states must follow federal gun control laws, but 35 don't require licensing or registration of any firearm, including assault weapons. And only four states limit gun purchases to one a month.

The National Rifle Association told CBS News, "This isn't a study. This is a piece of anti-gun propaganda," and declined to comment further on the report.

The director of the study does have anti-gun credentials. She led the charge against the gun lobby in Australia after a massacre there left 35 people dead. As a result, semiautomatic rifles and shotguns are now banned.

"I can tell you it was entirely too easy to purchase the guns. And I honestly believe something should be done," says Robyn Anderson, who bought guns for her friends Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The two then killed 13 people plus themselves at Columbine High School.

She says a state law requiring background checks at gun shows would have stopped her from buying three guns used by the Columbine killers.

"If I had to fill out paperwork with a private dealer I would not have done it," says Anderson.

Forty-four states have this so-called gun show loophole. In Colorado, legislators refused to close the loophole and voted down virtually every other gun control measure introduced since the Columbine massacre.