Note: As mass shootings gain more media attention, more and more people are discussing gun control. While many seem to believe that registering all guns, requiring background checks for all purchases, and preventing identifiably dangerous people from purchasing guns are all good ideas, just as many seem to be afraid that any gun control law will mean the loss of all civilian guns. Organizations like the NRA play on these fears, telling people that guns are already too regulated and any further action will mean the loss of the much cherished 2nd Amendment (which is more for well-regulated militia than civilians, but that’s an argument for another day).
So I wanted to see what exactly the gun laws are in each state. Are guns too regulated? Do states with tight gun laws have more gun violence or less? What does it even take to get a gun nowadays? With these questions in mind, I’ll be starting a new weekly series – Gun Laws, State by State. I will try to document the most up-to-date gun laws in each state as well as provide facts on gun deaths in each state. Hopefully, by the time I get to the last state, we will all be better educated on gun control and gun deaths. If you have any additional information on the state in question, add it in the comments.
Previous post: Ohio
Oregon shares several characteristics in common with the previous two states:
- You don’t need a permit to purchase a firearm.
- You don’t need a permit to possess a firearm.
- You don’t need to register your firearms.
- You don’t need to be licensed to own a firearm.
- You are allowed to possess, purchase, or sell a machine gun.
However, Oregon differs from Kentucky and Ohio in two important respects:
- You must successfully complete a background check if purchasing from a gun show.
- You are allowed to open carry (which means openly wear your firearm in public).
Have these two stipulations resulted in increased or decreased deaths, injuries, or crime gun exports? It’s hard to tell. While homicides have gone down in the state over the past 30 years, Oregon still ranks 28th in gun related deaths, putting it ahead of Ohio (but not Kentucky), which doesn’t allow open carry or background check those that purchase from gun shows. It’s also 26th in crime gun exports, once again ahead of Ohio and behind Kentucky. Of the three states listed, Oregon has also had the fewest mass shootings in 2015 (two) whereas Ohio had the most (13).
A question that I would like answered is whether or not enacting the open carry law affected shootings or homicides. When was the law enacted? Did shootings spike around that time? Is there any correlation between the law and the overall downward trend of homicides?
The more I look into states’ gun laws, the more questions I have. Does the overall decrease in gun-related deaths nation-wide relate to open carry laws in any way? Lack of registration? Or does it correlate with federal mandates to have background checks at licensed dealers?
It’s similarly hard to figure out how Oregon’s gun laws affect its people. It’s basically on par with Ohio in most respects – except mass shootings. But Ohio has a larger population, more urban areas, more gun owners, more gun-related deaths every year, and a higher percentage of homicides involving a firearm. So does how urban and populated a state is have a bigger affect on gun-related deaths and injuries? Perhaps. We’ll just have to keep looking.