Gun control measures failed in the United States Senate last week despite polls showing that nine in ten Americans support expanded background checks for most gun sales. Recent reports have shown a strong relationship between the strength of gun laws and the level of gun violence.
For instance, Alabama has the third highest rate of gun violence in the country, and like top-ranked Louisiana, Alabama has much less stringent gun laws than other states with less gun violence, like New Jersey, Connecticut, and Hawaii. In fact, none of the states with the highest gun violence require permits for handgun purchases, and all received D’s or F’s from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence for their gun control policies.
In Alabama, there were 782 deaths due to firearms in 2010 (16.36 for every 100,000 residents), a higher rate than all but three other states. That year, there were 283 firearm homicides (5.92 for every 100,000 people), higher than all but two other states. The state also ranked within the top 10 for homicides of women with a firearm, firearm deaths of children and law enforcement killings, all within a 10-year time frame.
Yet Alabama lawmakers, including its senators in Washington, are moving not only to block popular measures like background checks to prevent people with criminal records and serious mental illness from purchasing guns but to ease gun restrictions. Over opposition from sheriffs statewide, Alabama Senators voted to allow gun owners to keep firearms locked in their car while at work regardless of their employer’s opinion and to allow people to carry a visible pistol without being charged with disorderly conduct.