SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Georgia and South Carolina got failing grades on a newly-released national gun law scorecard.
The report by the Giffords Law Center grades each state based on gun death rates and gun laws. The center is calling for lawmakers in both states to take quick-action.
“They have weak gun laws and high gun death rates,” said Allison Anderman, Senior Counsel to the Giffords Law Center.
Anderman said their annual Gun Law Scorecard tells a story, adding those with bad grades - like Georgia and South Carolina - struggle to curb gun violence.
“That is the one thing that you can look at year after year after year on our scorecard,” Anderman said. “States with high grades have lower gun death rates, and states with failing grades have high gun death rates.”
The Giffords Law Center said it bases its grades on gun death rates and gun laws, but it doesn’t list specific state laws on its scorecard. Take Georgia, for example. With the 14th-highest gun death rate nationwide, at just under 16 deaths for every 100,000 people, the center suggests Georgia make three key changes:
- Require background checks for all firearm sales.
- Require waiting periods for gun purchases.
- Bar domestic abusers from buying a gun.
South Carolina also got a failing grade. The center recommends adding background checks for all firearm sales and community violence intervention programs in the palmetto state.
“I mean, it’s heartbreaking, because there are real people at the end of these decisions,” Anderman said. “We know what to do to lower the levels of gun violence in this country. But what we don’t have, in all states, are courageous legislators who are willing to stand up to the gun lobby and to gun extremists.”
But one Georgia lawmaker says not so fast.
“I don’t think in any way that the number of gun laws that are enacted in a state has anything to do with the gun violence,” said Georgia Republican Congressman Buddy Carter.
Carter argues that the laws the center is suggesting don’t actually target criminals, and instead make it more difficult for people to defend themselves.
“Look, I’m all for background checks. I think it should be practical. But, putting obstacles and barriers in the way of law-abiding citizens who want to own guns, I don’t think is the answer,” said Carter.
Carter also questions the center’s rankings. The scorecard does appear to show a correlation between its grades and gun death rates, but there are some outliers.
New Mexico, for example, has the fourth-highest gun-death-rate. Higher than both Georgia and South Carolina. But it received a C+ rating.
“I don’t know where they came up with those values, but you can get caught-up in ratings,” said Carter. “I don’t think there’s too many guns in America.”
Anderman believes the facts are on the side of gun-control proponents and insists that stronger gun laws will help prevent future tragedies.
“Truthfully, the real issue is people using the guns against themselves or people in their own families,” Anderman said. “Access matters.”
If you’d like to take a look at the scorecard yourself, click on this link: https://giffords.org/lawcenter/resources/scorecard/#GA