WASHINGTON, DC - January 31 - Officials in most states have done little to keep criminals and other dangerous people from easily obtaining guns, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The new redesigned scorecards are being released today for all 50 states.
Two-thirds of all states score less than 20 points out of 100. Almost half of all states score 10 points or less out of 100.
“We make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons. Our gun laws are so weak that, in most states, there are few or no laws to prevent gun violence," says Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “This is true at the federal level as well. We need effective gun laws to curb gun violence and illegal gun trafficking.”
The Brady Scorecards are designed so that states can score up to 100 points across five major categories of laws: Curbing Firearm Trafficking; Strengthening Brady Background Checks; Child Safety; Banning Military-style Assault Weapons; and making it harder to carry Guns In Public Places. The national state-by-state scores are available in complete category-by-category detail at www.bradycampaign.org.
The rankings show that most states don’t have laws to effectively combat gun trafficking. States like Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Utah have no laws on the books to effectively combat firearm trafficking or to prevent dangerous people from gaining easy access to guns.
The state with the strongest gun laws is California with 79 points, followed by New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Maryland.
California took a bold new step last year by enacting the groundbreaking Crime Gun Identification Act of 2007, to require new semi-automatic handguns to be fitted with “microstamping” technology to help law enforcement identify crime guns and apprehend armed criminals. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the legislation last session. Both New Jersey and Connecticut also enacted laws last session that curb firearm trafficking.
“While advocates and officials deserve credit for strong gun laws in states like California, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, even more needs to be done in these, and all, states to ensure that dangerous people don’t have easy access to guns,” said Helmke.
The Brady Campaign scorecards provide a new and redesigned analysis of whether states are enacting the laws needed to protect citizens from gun violence. The new scorecards also show states how their gun laws can be strengthened and their scores improved.
The categories covered by the 2007 scorecards are as follows:
- States can earn up to 35 points by taking all measures needed to “Curb Firearm Trafficking.” States can fully regulate the gun dealers within their borders, limit bulk purchases of handguns, provide police certain technology to identify crime guns, and require lost or stolen guns to be reported to the police.
- States can earn up to 25 points by “Strengthening Brady Background Checks.” This involves requiring background checks on all gun sales and requiring a permit in order to purchase firearms. Short of universal background checks, states can also close the gun show loophole, at least requiring background checks for all gun show sales.
- States can earn up to 20 points by “Protecting Child Safety” when it comes to guns. States can require that only childproof handguns be sold within their borders, require child safety locks to be sold with each handgun, hold adults accountable for keeping guns away from kids and teens, and require handgun purchasers to be at least 21 years of age.
- States can earn up to 10 points by “Banning Military-style Assault Weapons,” as well as banning high-capacity ammunition magazines.
- States can earn up to 10 points by making it harder to carry “Guns In Public Places” (except for trained law enforcement and security) and by allowing localities to “Preserve Local Control” over municipal gun laws. This includes keeping guns out of workplaces and college campuses, not forcing law enforcement to issue concealed handgun permits on demand, not permitting “shoot first” expansions in self-defense laws, and not preventing municipalities from passing their own gun laws.
We acknowledge the research of Legal Community Against Violence on state gun laws. Their publication, “Regulating Guns in America,” and website served as a basis for our analysis. For more information about Legal Community Against Violence, see www.lcav.org.
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As the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Brady Campaign, with its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, works to enact and enforce sensible gun laws, regulations and public policies. The Brady Campaign is devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.
For continuing insight and comment on the gun issue, read Paul Helmke's blog at www.bradycampaign.org/blog/. Visit the Brady Campaign website at www.bradycampaign.org.