Monday, February 11, 2013

The state of gun laws

​Washingtonians have been flocking to local law enforcement offices to acquire permits to carry concealed weapons, according to a recent news report. Gun sales, too, are booming in the state. The surge in demand in both cases likely arises from fear of impending restrictions on gun ownership in the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn.
Gun laws vary widely from state to state. In Washington, the state constitution – in Article I, Section 24 -- includes a stronger and less ambiguous declaration of the right to bear arms than the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides.
States have different rules about concealed-weapons permits, background checks and many other elements of firearms regulation. Washington, for example, is one of many states that requires no permit for the open (unconcealed) carrying of a handgun, while three states – Florida, Illinois and Texas – and the District of Columbia prohibit “open carry.”
Two national organizations that advocate tighter regulations – the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence – issue scorecards that grade the states on their level of firearms regulation, with more regulation generating a higher grade. In the latest Brady scorecard, Washington scored 15 out of 100, which actually placed well within the top half of scores nationwide (California was first, with 81). On the Law Center scorecard, Washington rates a “C” -- again, well within the top half of the class.
In 2008, the Law Center reports, Washington had the 15th lowest number of gun deaths per capita. Generally, the center says, there is a strong correlation between high grades on their scorecard and low gun-death rates.

Read this story in Spanish.