Brady Campaign’s Latest
Annual “Grades” for State Gun Laws
Every year since 1997, the Brady Campaign, previously known as Handgun Control, Inc., has “graded” the states on their gun laws. It released its 2005 grades on March 9, 2006.
Brady’s premise is simple. It supports gun prohibition and laws that inch closer to gun prohibition, so it naturally believes there are not enough gun laws. In the group’s press release announcing its new “grades,” its chair, Sarah Brady, says, “we have done almost nothing, at the state or Federal level, to make it harder for either a terrorist, garden variety armed robber, or young person to get their hands on a handgun.” This is an incredible statement, given that the Brady Act, for which the group claims credit, requires a criminal background check on anyone who purchases a firearm from a firearm dealer, and given the fact that there are many other federal and state gun laws.
Brady’s approach to its “grades” is equally simple: the fewer a state’s restrictions on guns, the lower the grade, and conversely, more state gun control laws equate to a higher grade. This year, Brady gives 32 states an “F” or “D” (10 “Fs” and 22 “Ds”) and the average “grade” for the 50 states is a “D+”, about the same as in previous years.
However, there is no correlation between Brady’s grades and violent crime or firearm-related deaths. For example, six of the 10 states Brady gives an “F”, and 13 of the 22 states Brady gives a “D”, have violent crime rates below the national rate.
There is also no correlation between Brady’s grades and trends in violent crime or gun-related deaths. Since 1991, violent crime has declined every year, 39% overall, to a 30-year low (and murder has declined to a 39-year low), and since 1993 the firearm-related death rate has decreased 32% among the whole population and decreased 63% among children. Yet, as noted, Brady’s grades are essentially unchanged from year to year, mostly “Fs” and Ds”.