U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)-– The states with the most restrictive gun laws are repressing the exercise of Second Amendment rights. How much damage are they doing?
In the 2022 Bruen decision, released by the Supreme Court on June 22, the court named six states and the District of Columbia as polities where the governments were violating the rights of their residents to keep and bear arms.
Those states were California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia.
There are reasonably good measures to compare those states to the rest of the country, where laws restricting the sale, ownership, and carry of arms are less burdensome.
The National Instant background Check System (NICS) tracks retail gun sales in all the states. Gun sales are much closer than NICS background checks alone because NICS checks are done for many other things as well.
Gun sales, measured in the NICS system, give us a strong representation of how many guns were purchased in a given year in each state.
Looking at the restrictive states compared to the non-restrictive states will show if the restrictive state laws are repressing the exercise of the right to keep arms by repressing the number of people who purchase firearms.
The number of people who have permits to carry is not as easily obtained. The Crime Prevention Research Center (CRPC) has worked to determine how many carry permits exist in each state. The numbers reported in 2021 will be used for this comparison.
This is a quick, first-order comparison to see if any obvious disparity exists. If no disparity exists, a more sophisticated analysis may or may not show those laws repress the exercise of Second Amendment rights.
Population figures for the states were taken from the 2020 census. Gun sales and carry permits will be expressed as rates so as to make a state-to-state comparison meaningful. The numbers of gun sales are from two years, 2020 and 2021.
2020 is a particularly useful year, as there was both a significant increase in violent crime and political posturing to restrict firearms sales and possession. The motivation to exercise Second Amendment rights should have been high.
2020 recorded all-time records for gun sales.
Gun sales for the restrictive states and the District of Columbia in 2020, as calculated from the NICS data, were 2.05 million. Per capita firearm sales were .024 firearms per person.
In 2021, for the restrictive states and DC, the numbers were: 1.93 million, and .023 firearms sold per person.
Restrictive states gun sales per capita: 2020 – .024; 2021 – .023.
Gun sales for the rest of the USA in 2020 were 18.6 million, and .075 firearms sold per person. In 2021, there were 16.2 million firearms sold, and .065 firearms sold per person.
Less restrictive states, gun sales per capita: 2020 – .075; 2021 – .065.
This is significant evidence of repressing the exercise of Second Amendment rights. In 2020 and 2021, the sales of firearms in the restrictive states were only one-third as many per capita as in non-repressive states.
So much for the right to keep arms.
How about the right to bear arms?
The number of permits in the restrictive states are, using the CRPC numbers, 817,888. The permits per capita in those states is .0097.
The number of permits in the rest of the country, using the CRPC numbers, is 20.7 million. The permits per capita in those states is .084.
Carry permits per capita: Restrictive states .0097. Nonrestrictive states: .084
There are 8.64 times as many permits per capita in non-restrictive states as in restrictive states. There is an 88% reduction in carrying permits in the restrictive states. This indicates large repression of the exercise of Second Amendment rights.
The permit numbers do not take into account half of the states in the United States where no permit is required to go armed in most places. This policy is commonly known as “Constitutional Carry”.
As a first-order approximation of the effects of the restrictive state laws on the exercise of Second Amendment rights, a significant correlation is obvious.
In restrictive states, only about one-third as many people exercise the right to keep arms (as measured by purchases) protected by the Second Amendment.
In restrictive states, only about one-ninth as many people exercise the right to bear arms (as measured by permits) protected by the Second Amendment.
Other factors may play a part in these numbers. A sophisticated analysis may take into account hunting, crime rates, incomes, and other factors.
The first-order look shows an obvious disparity in line with the restrictive laws.
The underlying hypothesis for the laws seems to be: fewer guns, fewer problems.
There is no academic consensus to that effect. The closest seems to be: more or fewer guns, with no measurable effect.
A tenable hypothesis is: more legal restrictions, more repression of Second Amendment rights. It is nearly a truism, which the Supreme Court is starting to address.
Some may say the results are obvious. No measurement was needed.
If you cannot measure a thing, it is not science.
The results above are measurements that can be replicated and agreed to.
They are facts, not matters of opinion.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of Constitutional Carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.