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: New Hampshire
Mississippi has some of the worst gun violence in the country. It is the #1 exporter of crime guns in the country, exporting about 50 firearms per resident. It ranks 3rd in gun-related deaths every year with a gun death occurring every 16 hours. 74% of all homicides involve a firearm while 61% of domestic violence homicides involve a firearm.
Mississippi has one of the largest percentages of gun owners in the country and some of the most lax gun laws. Over 55% of Mississippi residents own at least one gun. They are allowed to purchase machine guns, neither unsafe firearms nor ammunition are regulated, and people convicted of domestic violence or related charges are not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. It is an open carry state.
The best piece of news is that Mississippi saw very few mass shootings in 2015. There were only two in the entire state, which resulted in three killed and six wounded.
Mississippi certainly seems to belie the assumption that more lax gun laws and more citizens with guns equal greater safety. On the contrary, the ease with which Mississippians can purchase and carry guns seems to make life less safe. More people die of gun related deaths, crime is higher, and guns are disproportionately used in homicides. Being able to buy guns so easily might in fact be devaluing guns in people’s eyes, facilitating the crime gun export trade. After all, if you’re not required to be licensed, register your firearm, surrender your guns when you commit a crime, or report stolen guns to the police, then why would you care if your weapons were used in crimes – or what would prevent you from selling them to unscrupulous people?
As for mass shootings, Mississippi’s fairly low population most likely plays a role. Less than 3 million people live in Mississippi, and it doesn’t have many urban areas. It’s also not known for its gang or crime syndicate activities, making it less likely that there would be large-scale shootings.
Mississippi could do several things to decrease gun crime and violence: require registration, require universal background checks, require periodic training for gun owners, regulate unsafe firearms, and limit the amount of firearms or ammunition purchasable. Doing so wouldn’t restrict people’s Second Amendment rights or prevent them from having guns, but it could prevent people from stockpiling weapons to unscrupulously sell or conveniently “lose.”