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: Mississippi
Hawaii has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation as well as the lowest incidents of gun crime exports, homicides, gun-related deaths, mass shootings, and gun ownership. Hawaii ranks:
- 51st in gun-related deaths (including D.C.)
- 50th in crime gun exports (excluding D.C.)
Because of how relatively difficult it is to get a gun (You have to be 21 to purchase or possess a handgun and concealed carry permits are almost never issued.), Hawaii has a very low population of gun owners: 6.7%. Unlike in most states, you also have to have a permit to purchase or possess either a long gun or a handgun, you must register your firearms, and Hawaii does background checks for all sellers. However, Hawaii does not restrict the amount of guns or ammunition you can purchase at one time.
I would say Hawaii shows evidence that increased gun laws could help decrease gun-related deaths and crime, especially if we compare it to an analogous state like New Hampshire. To learn more about New Hampshire’s gun laws, click here.
New Hampshire and Hawaii differ greatly on their gun laws. New Hampshire doesn’t have a minimum age to possess or purchase, doesn’t require a permit to purchase or possess, doesn’t background check at private sales, and is fairly lax on how to get a concealed carry permit. However, both of them have low populations (1.327 million in New Hampshire and 1.42 million in Hawaii) and few major cities. Both also see fairly low crime rates with their murder rates below 20 murders a year and less than 40% of these involving a firearm. So comparing the two would be fair.
New Hampshire has higher incidents of domestic violence homicides using firearms, ranks higher in crime gun exports, and has more gun-related deaths in both actual numbers and per capita. And, as I’ve already pointed out, it has laxer gun laws.
Does this definitively indicate that tighter gun laws decrease gun violence? Well, I wouldn’t guarantee that 100%, but I think this provides decent evidence that there could be a correlation between tighter gun laws and decreased gun violence. I also think it should start making you wonder, ‘If Hawaii’s gun restrictions resulted in around 75 fewer deaths per year than in New Hampshire, what could expanded restrictions nationwide yield?’