WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feb. 16, 2012 -
California continues to blaze legislative trails in adopting lifesaving gun laws, rising to a high of 81 points (out of a possible 100) on the 2011 Brady State Scorecard rankings, while too many states remain in the Zero-Sum Club with the weakest gun laws, the Brady Campaign announced today.
The Brady Campaign also announced today that its analysis of 2010 crime gun trace data supplied by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) found that the 31 states with the weakest gun laws export 9 times the crime guns as the six states with the strongest gun laws. (Click here for graph.)
“Guns don’t fall from the sky into the hands of criminals,” said Brady Acting President Dennis Henigan. “All too often, crime guns come from gun dealers in the states that stubbornly refuse to enact common sense, lifesaving gun laws. Every day, a river of illegal guns flows out of the states with weak gun laws, victimizing families in states that are doing their best to protect their residents. It is no accident that the states with the weakest gun laws are the exporters of death and injury.”
For the 5th year in a row, the Brady Campaign has issued a 100-point scorecard ranking all 50 states on the basis of laws that can reduce gun violence, such as background checks on all gun sales, permit-to-purchase requirements, and limiting handgun purchases to one a month. Today’s report ranks states for laws that were enacted by the end of 2011. It reveals that 31 states still have few gun laws, while six states, including California, that rank in the top tier, have strong and effective gun laws. (Legal Community Against Violence's web site and reports were the primary sources used in the report to determine the content of state gun laws.)
California remains the state with the strongest gun laws as it gained another point in 2011 after passing legislation that requires the retention of long gun records in the firearm database administered by the California Department of Justice. The absence of long gun records in the database represented a loophole in California law until it was closed last year. Handgun records are already maintained by the state. The long gun record retention legislation was the top priority of the California Brady Campaign Chapters and allies.
“California is golden when it comes to adopting laws that lead to safer communities. If more of America had California’s gun laws, countless lives would be saved,” added Henigan.
New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Hawaii round out the top six states with the strongest gun laws, with scores ranging to 72 from 50, respectively. Those states also have the lowest gun death rates in the nation.
At the other end of the spectrum are Arizona, Alaska, and Utah with 0 points each. Florida made news this year after a demerit category was added for a gag rule on doctors that limits their freedom to discuss the dangers of guns with patients. Florida enacted the gag rule last year and that dropped its score to from 5 points to 3 points.
A fresh analysis of data for crime guns recovered by police and traced back to the dealer that sold the gun provides additional evidence showing that strong gun laws help to curb the supply of guns to the illegal market. The ATF data, available on its website, provide information on the source states of U.S. crime guns by state. The data show that states with weak gun laws have a crime gun export rate nine times higher than states with strong gun laws.
The Brady Center analyzed the data to identify patterns in the movements of crime guns across the United States, including which states have the highest rates of crime guns moving across state borders, known as the crime gun export rate (per 100,000 population).
Texas, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and West Virginia are among the 31 states that together export crime guns at a rate nine times higher than states with strong gun laws.