By Peter Hamm
WASHINGTON --- States with weak gun laws supply guns to criminals in other states at a rate five times higher than dealers in states with stronger gun laws, according to a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence analysis of newly released crime gun trace data.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) recently released nationwide crime gun trace data for 2009 crime guns recovered by police and traced back to the dealer that sold the gun.
The data shows that Mississippi, for the second year in a row, had the highest rate of crime guns exported to other states, followed by West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, and Alabama. In contrast, Hawaii, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, all states with strong gun laws, had the lowest rates of crime gun exports, with rates less than one crime gun export per 100,000 people. The Brady Center analysis ranks states on their contribution to interstate gun trafficking, calculating the rate of crime gun exports based on the number of guns sold by in-state gun dealers, which are traced and recovered in crime in another state (per capita rate calculated per 100,000 people).
Georgia, for the second year running, had the highest sheer volume of crime guns exported to other states, with 2,771 crime guns sold in Georgia that were recovered in crime in other states. The other top five states with the highest total numbers of crime gun exports were Florida, Virginia, Texas, and Ohio. Each of these states earned fewer than 20 points on the Brady Campaign 2009 scorecard and has weak gun laws making it easy for criminals to get guns.
“Weak gun laws are a gun trafficker’s best friend,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Elected leaders in these states need to close the loopholes in their gun laws that allow criminals easy access to deadly weapons, and we need to take steps at the national level as well.”
The Brady Center also ranked the states based on their per capita rate of all crime gun sales based on the number of crime guns traced to gun dealers in a state and recovered in crime both in-state and out of state.
Louisiana claims the number one spot on this measure for the second year in a row, followed by Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia.
Each of these states scores fewer than 20 points out of 100 on the Brady Campaign 2009 scorecard.
By contrast, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, had the lowest rates of crime guns per capita. Each of these states scores in the top ten on the Brady Campaign 2009 state scorecard.
The ATF crime gun trace data that was released is at http://www.atf.gov/statistics/.
The Brady Center determined state rankings based on ATF crime gun trace data recently released on its website. The Brady Center analysis determined that gun dealers in states with weak gun laws supply criminals in other states with guns at a rate more than five times higher than in states with stronger gun laws by comparing 2009 per capita crime gun trace rates among the states having the strongest gun laws and weakest gun laws on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s 2009 annual state scorecard. States earning zero stars on the scorecard had a per capita crime gun trace export rate five times higher than states that scored 3 or 4 stars. Crime gun data represents guns recovered in crime and successfully traced back to the gun dealer that sold the gun.
The Brady state scorecards rate each state on the strength of its gun laws. They are available at http://www.bradycampaign.org/stategunlaws/scorecard?s=1.