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Another Year, Another Meaningless Brady Scorecard

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's that time of year again -- the time when the Brady Campaign releases its annual scores and rankings, lavishing praise on state governments that infringe upon the rights of their citizens and scorn on those that respect the Constitution.  This year, the occasion was met with about as much enthusiasm as that other spring ritual, the income tax filing deadline.  If this is the first you're hearing of the new rankings, let's hope that's because the mainstream media has finally come to its senses about this annual publicity stunt.

As it has since 1997, the Brady Campaign's grading system works by assigning points to a state based on whether it has adopted a specific type of gun control law.  The Brady Campaign then assigns each state a grade -- now measured in "stars," undoubtedly because percentage grades would show that the group has been unable to prevent most states from failing its test.  Most states receive fewer than 10 points and no stars. 

The group does not try to measure the effectiveness of any of these laws when assigning points and grades, instead implying that simply having laws restricting the right to keep and bear arms somehow makes a state better and safer.  This, of course, is a false premise. Measuring restrictive laws simply for the sake of having restrictive laws only assesses a state government's lack of respect for the rights of its citizenry.

This "more is better" gun law fallacy is evidenced when the Brady Campaign gives states points for restricting the Right to Carry and punishes with "demerits" (negative points) those states that don't require permits.   Today, 37 states have "shall issue" permit systems and as of July 1, 2011 three of those states will also allow for permitless carry (as does Vermont, which has no permit system).  This has resulted in an estimated 6 million Americans exercising this right. With all of these "guns in public places," in 2009 the country experienced a 39-year low in its violent rate crime and a 45-year low in its murder rate, according to the FBI.  These historic lows also occurred in the absence of a federal "assault weapons" ban, a law for which the Brady Campaign awards yet more points at the state level.

When studying individual state rankings, the Brady Campaign's delusions prove even more foolish. In a press release accompanying the rankings, California is praised as a "model of sensible gun laws," receiving 80 points out of a possible 100 and earning the organization's only four-star ranking.  Conversely, Arizona and Utah are scolded as "Do-Nothing" states, receiving no points or stars for restrictive gun measures.  Someone must have forgotten to alert California's criminals of this prestigious honor, as the 2009 FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that the violent crime rates in Arizona and Utah are 13 and 55 percent lower, respectively, than those in California.

Times must be tough for the Brady Campaign, which acknowledges cribbing the information used for the state scorecard from its fellow gun control group, the Legal Community Against Violence.  With an inability to conduct its own research, it is no wonder the information Brady supplies to the public and the press often proves misleading or false.  Or perhaps the Brady Campaign deems such research irrelevant, as its main tactic remains the exploitation of tragedy.

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