Alabama is ranked first in the nation again, but unfortunately this time it’s not in football. One point separated Alabama from Indiana on the 2013 State Scorecard compiled by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. That single point made all the difference in the final rankings by these two groups. Indiana was given a D minus for the gun safety laws in their state. Alabama, with one less point than the Hoosier State, topped the list of the 26 states that received an F. To put it bluntly, my home state flunked the Brady Campaign’s annual 100 point test with flying colors. In a report released last month, along with the scorecard, it’s explained that the Law Center and the Brady Campaign join forces every year to rank each state based on 30 different criteria related to their regulation of guns and ammunition.
Laws that the two gun control groups deem effective in reducing violence earn points for a state. The stronger the law, the more points awarded. Points were taken away for legislation deemed irresponsible or dangerous. Only 15 states earned a C or higher. Even so, the organizations said states nationwide improved their laws in 2013 despite widespread gun control measures failing at the federal level in April. That pretty well tells us that reasonable gun control legislation hasn’t done very well in most states. Still, in my opinion, any progress is a good thing. The report said:
When Congress failed to pass any new gun violence prevention legislation in 2013, including the overwhelmingly popular legislation to expand background checks, state legislatures answered the call. Twenty-one states enacted new laws to curb gun violence in their communities, with eight of these states passing major reforms.
California earned the highest score of any state in the nation, an A minus, receiving 89 points of out 100. On the other end of the gun legislation spectrum, Arizona claimed the lowest score in the report, earning only 6 points. Here in Alabama, legislators didn’t fare much better than Arizona in terms of points, but Alabama’s 17.5 out of 100 ranked our state number 25 in the nation and with the highest score that still merited an F on the scorecard.
I fully realize that the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) power and control, both in Washington and in most state legislative bodies, will keep any reasonable gun control legislation from passing. One would think that legislators would do whatever is needed to assist in curbing the gun-related violence that has become all too commonplace in the U.S. But until the American people get involved and demand action, the NRA will continue to run the show, and the killings will continue. We owe it our children and grandchildren to do the right thing on the issue of gun control. We should urge our lawmakers to pass reasonable gun control legislation, starting in Washington. We can’t afford to allow the NRA to continue to exert its control over the politicians.
We should all remember how the country reacted after the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. That tragic event spurred politicians nationwide to take the legislative action to regulate the use and possession of guns and ammunition. It appeared at the time that something would happen. But months have passed and the public outcry has pretty much gone away. So has the legislative push by our elected officials in Washington. There was activity on the state level, but what was done helped the NRA and the gun leaders. A New York Times study shows of the more than 100 state bills that have been signed into law this year, most of them loosen restrictions on guns, not tighten them.
According to the infographic on the Times website, around 1,500 bills to somehow regulate firearms or ammunition were introduced at the state level in the past year. Remember the Sandy Hook killings were carried out in December 2012. Only 109 of those bills have been signed into law, and only 39 of those legislate tougher restrictions.
The other 70 laws, including Alabama Act 2013-283, actually remove legislative obstacles for gun owners. In Arkansas, for instance, a law went into effect allowing guns in private elementary and high schools that are operated by religious organizations. In West Virginia, law-abiding holders of a concealed carry permit no longer have to undergo an additional background check when purchasing firearms.
In Connecticut, the site of the killings, laws regulating guns and ammo were tightened considerably. Also, California and New York passed laws that increased government regulation. Private sales in New York are now illegal without a federal background check. In Connecticut, high-capacity magazines and more than 100 firearms were banned as assault weapons. In Alabama, SB 286 was adopted and signed into law in May. It went into effect as Alabama Act 2013-283 on August 1. It was a major overhaul of the state’s gun regulations, especially concerning the issuance of concealed carry permits.
While many celebrate the new gun law in Alabama and others like it across the country as protections of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, others lament the lack of tighter widespread regulations at the state and federal levels. I hope that we will see some reasonable legislation passed this year both in Washington and in the states. We can honor the Constitution and still protect innocent people from becoming victims of mass murders in our schools, malls and theaters.
Sources: AL.com and The New York Times
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