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: Georgia
New Hampshire doesn’t have any especially strict gun laws, but they do have the lowest incidents of gun death and homicides that I’ve seen thus far. Examples of New Hampshire’s fairly lax laws include:
- You don’t need a permit to purchase, possess, or carry
- You can open carry an unloaded handgun
- There are no background checks at private sellers
- There is no minimum age to possess or purchase a long gun
- Neither ammunition or unsafe firearms are regulated
And yet, despite these fairly lax laws, New Hampshire sees some of the lowest crime, death, and exportation rates thus far. For example:
- There were zero mass shootings in New Hampshire in 2015
- There were only six gun-related homicides in 2011 (out of 16 homicides total)
- New Hampshire sees only about 100 – 115 gun-related deaths every year
New Hampshire seems to be in that sweet spot of neither too much gun-related government oversight nor too many accidents, death, and incidents of crime. Its one real problem is its crime gun exports, which is higher than the national average at 18.3 guns exported per 100,000 residents every year. This ranks it #24 in the nation. Could requiring all guns to be registered and universal background checks decrease this amount? Perhaps, though that would probably also depend on the surrounding states.
However, before we get too excited about New Hampshire’s lax laws, it’s also important to notice that 1) it has a fairly small population, 2) there are fewer guns in this state than any other profiled, and 3) it naturally has a low crime rate. Even in 1996 when the homicide rate was almost two times higher than it is now, New Hampshire was barely seeing a few dozen homicides a year. So if there are fewer people and fewer guns, perhaps there will simply be fewer homicides and fewer gun-related deaths. An interesting exercise would be seeing what the correlation between population, gun deaths, and homicides are per state – a project that I will get to in the future.