In the United States, gun laws refer to the regulations in the use, possession, and sale of firearms in the country. Such rules in different states differ considerably from the existing federal laws. The fact that the latter is significantly broad and limited in scope as compared to state laws has led to varying gun regulations from one state to another. In recent years, gun control laws have become a major topic of debate in the US media and politics . One side believes that more stringent gun control laws could reduce crime rates while the other holds a firm stand that there is no correlation between the two.
This research paper sets out to uncover whether strict gun control laws have any notable effects on the crime rate in the United States. It will analyze the levels of gun regulations in different states, alongside other variables, against gun-related crime rates in subject states.
The State of Alaska
Alaska has some of the most lenient gun control laws. Alaska residents can carry their firearms openly or hidden. Unlike majority states where there are long waiting periods and limitation in the number of guns a citizen may buy at once, local authorities in Alaska do not have authority to deny anyone the right to own a firearm. The state's constitution stipulates, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
In addition, recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that as of 2016, firearm-related deaths in Alaska were 177(113 suicides and 45 homicides). This translates to 23.0 per 100,000 people . Violent crime rates were highest than any other state and poverty rates were 9.9% which is 6th lowest in all states rankings.
The State of California
California has the strictest gun control laws in the United States. The state constitution does not automatically guarantee any citizen the right to buy, sell or keep a firearm. Furthermore, any such deals should go through a state licensed firearm dealer and such transactions put in the record. Today it is illegal to possess an assault weapon and .50 BMG rifles in California. If deemed dangerous to the community, the law permits that a person's firearm may be confiscated, and license revoked.
Other information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that there were 3184 (1595 suicides and 1464 homicides) gun-related deaths in 2016 which is 7.9 deaths per 100,000 people . Additionally, California's violent crime rates are rated 15th highest countrywide and poverty rates stand at 14.3% (20th highest).
The State of Louisiana
In Louisiana, the strictness of gun control laws can be rated average. It is legal for any resident to acquire a firearm locally or from other states. The constitution protects the ownership of arms but restrictively prohibits certain individuals from carrying concealed firearms. One requires a permit to carry long guns, but there are no licenses or permits needed when purchasing such guns as well as handguns.
Further information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that in 2016, firearm-related deaths accounted for 987 lives (440 suicides and 526 homicides) which converts to 21.2 deaths per 100,000 people . In this state, violent crime rate is rated 5th highest, and poverty rates stand at 20.2% - second highest among all states.
The State of Mississippi
Mississippi is another state that is exceptionally lenient firearm regulation laws. Any resident can privately acquire any gun they wish including assault rifles and no requirements for background checks or state permit to buy or sell . One is not required to have licenses to carry firearms openly or concealed.
As of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed 587 gun-related deaths (268 suicide and 282 homicides) which account for 19.8 deaths per 100,000 people in Mississippi . Mississippi, however, ranked so well in regards to violent crime rates registering a 15th lowest rate among all states. It is also worth noting that CDCP ranks Mississipi the state with the highest (20.8%) poverty rate in the United States.
Gun Control Laws and Crime Rates
From the above-discussed data, it is evident that strict gun control laws do not necessarily translate to a significant decrease in crime. For instance, despite having the most stringent gun-control laws, California is rated 15th highest in crime rate, unlike Mississippi which despite having the most lenient laws is ranked 15th lowest. Although some associations between high gun death rates and lesser strictness of gun laws in states discussed above, it is important to note that given variances in other factors within subject states, it could be possible a good number of such deaths could not solely blame on lenient gun restrictions. For instance, according to CDCP, economic losses are listed as the highest causes of suicides in the United States. As such, it could be an explanation why the majority of states discussed above with high gun-related suicide deaths are among the poorest in the country.
Further research on this issue uncovered that most studies on the impact of firearm laws had revealed the little effects on crime rates in the United States . Analysis of the 19 common types of gun laws showed that they had no consistent reduction in the rates of gun ownership. The same case applied to the rates of violence, suicide, and gun accidents. The two most common gun control laws (registration of guns and prolonged processing periods) do not reduce crimes in any quantifiable ways .
This research concludes that strict gun control laws have a very insignificant impact in reducing crime. Therefore, it is recommendable that further research is conducted to find out other factors regarding the use of firearms that have substantial impacts on crime rates.
"Stats Of The States - Firearm Mortality". 2018. Cdc.Gov. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/sosmap/firearm_mortality/firearm.htm.
Kaufman, Elinore J., Christopher N. Morrison, Charles C. Branas, and Douglas J. Wiebe. 2018. "State Firearm Laws And Interstate Firearm Deaths From Homicide And Suicide In The United States". JAMA Internal Medicine. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.0190.
Kleck, Gary, Tomislav Victor Kovandzic, and Jon Bellows. 2016. "Does Gun Control Reduce Violent Crime?". SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2807634.
Parrillo, Vincent N. 2008. Encyclopedia Of Social Problems. 1st ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications.
The Lancet. 2017. "Gun Deaths And The Gun Control Debate In The USA". The Lancet 390 (10105): 1812. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(17)32710-1.
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