Law enforcement work to improve state’s gun ranking

Published 9:33 pm Friday, June 19, 2009

Alabama is ranked second in the nation for the number of gun deaths per capita and a majority of households in the state have guns, according to a study by the Violence Policy Center.

The five states topping the list were Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Mississippi and Nevada, according to the study, which looked at states that have high gun ownership along with what it categorized as weak gun laws.

The Violence Policy Center defined states with “weak” gun laws as those that add little or nothing to federal restrictions and have permissive concealed carry laws, allowing civilians to carry concealed handguns.

In states with that definition, gun death rates far exceed the national rate of 10.32 per 100,000 residents, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Alabama’s rate was 16.99.

It showed that in Alabama, which had a 2006 population of nearly 4.6 million, there were 780 gun-related deaths, including 400 suicides and 333 homicides.

Maplesville Chief of Police Todd Ingram said oftentimes gun-related injuries and deaths are fueled by domestic violence.

Ingram said that more urban areas such as Birmingham deal with gun violence on a daily basis, but the town of Maplesville does not often experience gun-related incidents.

Ingram had some tips to help prevent accidental gun injuries.

“Be a responsible firearms owner,” Ingram said. “You want to keep it locked up in a closet.”

Ingram said sometimes children are fascinated with firearms and want to handle guns out of curiosity, which can lead to disaster. He said education is a key part of ensuring gun safety.

“If they’re brought up around it and taught the proper rules, they respect them more,” Ingram said.

Ingram said the police department has provided gun locks in the past to citizens wanting extra safety measures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.