Brady Campaign Scorecard: 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 checks. 

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

“Most 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.

Many 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 www.lcav.org.


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