For Immediate Release

Brady Campaign State Scorecards: Most States Have Weak Gun Laws

WASHINGTON - Most states have weak or non-existent gun laws, helping feed the
illegal gun market and allowing the sale of guns without background
checks including at gun shows, according to the Brady Campaign to
Prevent Gun Violence.  Forty-three states fail to close the loophole
that allows criminals to buy guns at gun shows without Brady background

Scores range from the first-ever "zero," earned by
Utah, to 79 for California. The complete scorecard results can be
accessed at

states, unfortunately, are doing very little to protect citizens from
gun violence.  Most states are allowing dangerous people to have easy
access to guns," said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to
Prevent Gun Violence.  Few states have laws addressing the critical
issue of gun trafficking such as requiring background checks on all gun
purchases at gun shows.  The Brady Campaign is advocating for
legislation to close the gun show loophole at the national level.

states with weak gun laws have a high percentage of crime guns
recovered that were originally purchased within their own state.  The
Brady Campaign relates this "homegrown" gun violence to the lack of gun
laws in many states and nationally. 

"Since most states don't
require Brady criminal background checks on all firearms including
those at gun shows, gun traffickers don't need to leave their own state
to funnel illegal guns to felons and gang members," said Paul Helmke,
President of the Brady Campaign.  "Many state officials have done
nothing in the past year, or before, to stop the flow of illegal guns
within the state, including closing the gun show loophole that allows
dangerous people to walk into gun shows and buy guns without background
checks" Helmke said. 

California maintained the top spot with
the nation's strongest gun laws.  New Jersey maintained its number two
ranking and jumped ten points (to 73 points) by passing legislation to
stop bulk purchases of handguns. 

The categories covered by 2009 Brady Campaign State Scorecards are as follows:

  • States can earn up to 35 points by taking steps needed to "Curb
    Firearms Trafficking."  States can fully regulate the gun dealers
    within its 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 27 points by "Strengthening Brady Background
    Checks."  This involves requiring universal background checks and
    requiring a comprehensive 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 sold with each
    weapon, hold adults accountable for keeping guns away from kids and
    teens, and require gun 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 eight points by restricting most "Guns In
    Public Places" to trained law enforcement and security and "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 and not preventing cities
    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


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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

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