Most states have weak gun laws that help feed the illegal gun market, allow the sale of guns without background checks and put families and children at risk, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence contend in issuing its 2008 “state scorecards,” which rate each state on the strength of its gun laws. Brady president Paul Helmke called most state scores “abysmal.”
The advocacy group gave no state a better score for 2008 than for 2007. Five states saw scores drop: Florida, Georgia and Louisiana for passing laws forcing employers to allow employees to bring guns into workplace parking lots, and West Virginia and Wyoming, for passing so-called “Shoot First” laws that authorize deadly force in public against a perceived threat even if ways to avoid the threat are available. The scores range from a mere two points out of a hundred – in Kentucky, Louisiana and Oklahoma – to a score of 79 for California. Other high scores include those for Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey and New York. The group cited proposed legislation on cutting off easy gun access to convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill and on improving methods to trace guns used in crimes.