|Sig Sauer MCX, similar to rifle used at Pulse massacre.|
(Image source: newweaponsandmore.blogspot.com)
In the wake of the horrific massacre in Orlando, people are once again demanding we “do something” about the massive number of guns in American hands — an estimated 357 million privately-owned guns as of 2013, or about 112 guns per 100 citizens. Some demand we get rid of guns altogether; others demand we loosen the legislation to put guns in the hands of more people. And both sides are churning out bogus “facts” to support their positions.
To be clear about my own biases: I believe the Second Amendment as written is outdated and needs revision. I favor reasonable legislation which includes mandatory training and certification as well as reasonable restrictions on carrying and purchasing. However, the research and statistical analysis I’ve done over the last couple of days highlighted for me both the drama and the intractability of the problem. To put it concisely, there’s plenty we can do about the American gun problem … most of which will do little if anything to solve it.
By the Numbers
To give you an idea of the legislative mess:
- Only 17 states[*] require some form of permit or license to purchase a weapon; in many cases, the requirement only obtains for pistols.
- Only 9 states require registration, mostly of handguns, sometimes only under certain circumstances.
- Only 6 states require a license to own a handgun.
- The concealed-carry laws of 42 states vary from very strict may-issue conditions to non-mandatory permits issued on request for the sake of reciprocity with other states.
- Open-carry is permitted to some degree in 30 states.
- There are only 8 states in which local ordinances can do more than limit discharge of weapons; in 22 states, state pre-emption is total.
- Eleven states have no magazine capacity restrictions; 8 have no “assault weapon” restrictions.
- Nineteen states require no background checks for private sales.
- Only one state, California, imposes a mandatory waiting period as well as requiring a purchase permit.
- Thirty-three states have some version of “castle doctrine” or “stand your ground” law, either on the books or through case law.