WASHINGTON, D.C.– California is a model of sensible gun laws. Its universal background check system, strong gun dealer regulations, and assault clip ban are just some of the laws that provide a roadmap to preventing gun violence. New Jersey ranked second on the scorecard, while Arizona, Alaska, and Utah do not have a single common sense gun law on their books, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
For the 4th year in a row, the Brady Campaign has released a 100-point scorecard ranking all 50 states on the basis of laws that can prevent gun violence, such as background checks on all gun sales, permit-to-purchase requirements, and laws that help police crack down on corrupt gun dealers.
The report – which features an inter-active U.S. map that flashes scores – ranks states for laws that were in effect by the end of 2010. It reveals that 31 states have few gun laws or none, while the six states that rank in the top tier, including California with 80 points and New Jersey with 72 points, have strong and effective gun laws. Arizona, Alaska, and Utah earned 0 points.
“After the Tucson shootings, there was a public outcry, once again, over gun violence. With each new high-profile shooting, people wonder why. Why do these tragedies happen? What can we do to stop them?” said Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke. “California is a perfect example of how much more every state in America could do to protect our families and communities from the dangers and destruction of guns. Sensible gun laws save lives, as shown by states like California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Hawaii. That’s why we’re issuing this Scorecard – to educate and motivate elected officials and the general public. We can and should pass stronger gun laws, on both the state and federal levels.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, California ranks 33rd in the nation in gun deaths per 100,000 people. The next five states atop the Brady Scorecard rank 45th, 48th, 46th, 47th, and 50th in gun deaths per 100,000 people.
A top state and federal legislative priority for the Brady Campaign is requiring background checks on gun sales by private sellers as well as licensed dealers. Studies show that illegal gun-trafficking can be cut by nearly 50 percent within a state if background checks are required on all handgun sales. However, only five states have a universal background check law on handgun sales. Two states have universal background check laws on all firearms.
Laws that require law enforcement approval of permits to purchase guns also provide a huge deterrent to those who seek to do intentional harm with firearms. Having a “Permit to Purchase” system is the sub-category worth the most points on the Brady Scorecard.
“Most states don’t require criminal background checks on all firearm sales, and that makes it easier for gun traffickers to do their harm because they don’t have to travel far to funnel illegal guns to felons and gang members. Most states also don’t require permits-to-purchase, and that makes it easy for dangerous and irresponsible people to get guns. Our goal is to make it harder, as hard as possible, for dangerous people to get the weapons that tear apart families, friends, communities, and the fabric of our country,” Helmke added.
“We want to prevent the next Tucson, Virginia Tech, or Columbine. Gun violence directly touches nearly 100,000 Americans each year. This happens because it’s too easy now for dangerous people to get guns and to legally carry them in all sorts of public places.”
The Brady Campaign also announced features new this year to its annual release of scores, including four “Craziest Gun Laws” awards, which go to Kansas for allowing guns in K-12 schools, Virginia for allowing guns in bars, as long as the patron doesn’t drink, Utah for allowing guns on college campuses, and Florida for being on the brink of passing a bill that penalizes doctors for talking to children and parents about guns in the home.
The 2010 Brady Campaign State Scorecard can be accessed online here: http://www.bradycampaign.org/stategunlaws/scorecard/
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