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: Hawaii
Alaska has the most lax gun laws I’ve seen so far, allowing both open carry and concealed carry without a permit. It doesn’t require background checks at all sellers and doesn’t really have any laws to prosecute illegal sales or knowingly selling to someone who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.
In addition, it has higher rates of gun-related violence and crime than almost every other state:
- It ranks 1st in gun related deaths.
- It ranks 4th in crime gun exports.
- Its crime gun export rate is twice the national average.
That being said, Alaska does not have very high concrete numbers.
- It saw zero mass shootings in 2015.
- It only sees a couple dozen homicides a year.
- Less than 150 people die from gun related incidents a year.
If Second Amendment aficionados really wanted to point to a state for how lax gun laws “work,” they should probably turn to Alaska. As I said in this post, Texas isn’t really a great example since it sees hundreds of gun-related deaths every year and had almost 20 mass shootings in 2015 alone. Alaska, however, has an over 50% gun ownership rate, zero mass shootings, and a low homicide rate – and residents are allowed to open carry and concealed carry without permits, registration, or any sort of training.
So does this mean that lax gun laws are the way to go?
Well, yes and no. On the one hand, it’s alarming that Alaska has such high rates of gun related deaths and crime gun exports. Registering firearms and running background checks at all sellers could help reduce those, meaning that fewer Alaskans might encounter gun violence and fewer Alaskan guns would go on to hurt others. On the other hand, given Alaska’s low population, lack of urban areas, and lack of strategic targets, it’s unlikely to see a massive upswing in gun related violence. Cracking down on Alaskan residents the way California and New York’s governments have might be a step too far – especially since hunting is so integral there.
That being said, I’d still like to point out that the freedom to bear arms and the responsibility to keep citizens’ safe aren’t mutually exclusive. Alaska could still improve the lives of its citizens, whether by closing gun show loopholes, improving mental health access, or offering more gun safety and proficiency training courses. It could also work harder to prevent crime gun exportation, both of which I think the families of the 141 people who die of gun-related incidents every year would appreciate.