(Courtesy Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence)


Utah Wins "Craziest Gun Laws" Award For Allowing Guns on College Campuses

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. Meanwhile, 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. Today’s 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, which earned 80 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.

Another exciting new feature is the “Test Your Gun Law IQ” quiz, which can be accessed and taken online, as well as on Brady’s Facebook page. A sample question: “Which two states had the lowest youth gun death rate in 2007 (the latest year available)?”

The 2010 Brady Campaign State Scorecard can be accessed online here, and is explained by category as follows:

States can earn up to 35 points by taking steps needed to “Curb Firearms Trafficking.” States can fully regulate gun dealers within their borders, limit bulk purchases of handguns, record gun sale records and 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 40 points by “Strengthening Brady Background Checks.” This involves requiring universal background checks and requiring a comprehensive permit to purchase firearms. Short of universal background checks, states also can close the gun show loophole by at least requiring background checks for all gun show sales, and they can regulate handgun ammunition sales.
States can earn up to 10 points by “Banning Military-style Assault Weapons” and the deadly assault clips, like the one used by the Tucson shooter.
States can earn up to 7 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 be sold with each weapon and hold adults accountable for keeping guns away from kids and teens.
States can earn up to 8 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 off college campuses, not forcing law enforcement to issue concealed handgun permits on demand, and allowing local municipalities to pass their own gun laws.

Brady Campaign officials 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 this analysis. For more information about Legal Community Against Violence, see http://www.lcav.org/.

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.