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A Gun-Owner's Proposal for Gun Reform

I'm a Republican, have owned guns since I was legally able, and have had my CCW for years. I believe in gun reform

Gun Control Debate

Semi-auto rifles

Semi-auto rifles

How I've Changed Towards Guns

Yes, that's me, at least me at the age of 13. Before I start this article I'd like to give a bit of background to who I am and how guns have been a part of the fabric of my life. My father has always owned guns, and they were always around the house. We were taught never to touch them, learned how to use them in an emergency, and overall had a responsible upbringing and a respect for the power guns possessed.

My uncle is an avid hunter. We talk about different guns he trades or buys, I see pictures of the animals he's shot, and we've even traded a few guns together once. When I turned 21, the first thing I did was buy a drink legally, and the second thing I did was get my CCW and purchase my first handgun, a Glock 19 that I still own and carry to this day. I've owned 3 other guns since then, a .357 Magnum, a .38 revolver, and an AR-15. Yes, an AR-15.

Smith and Wesson .45

Smith and Wesson .45

You may wonder why a man who has had a positive outlook on guns his whole life, owns guns, has owned the highly criticized AR-15, and even has his CCW would want to talk about gun reform. While the world looks at America in amazement at the school shootings, mass killings, and extreme violence that has happened over the past few years, they have missed the major problem. Many claim our issue is assault rifles, mental illness, guns in general, video games, or bullying. The conversation sparks with every mass shooting we endure, and even now with Florida students challenging the system, I believe we've missed the point. Both sides have presented arguments that have valid reasoning. On one hand, we don't do enough to help with mental illness. On the other, guns are incredibly easy to buy.

I've acquired all of my guns legally in the state of Ohio, all in different ways. The first time I bought a gun, I did so at a gun show. The business represented was not considered a private seller so I went through the background checks, waited for approval, showed my license, and eventually purchased my gun and left a few minutes later. The second gun I purchased was from a private seller. In the state of Ohio and many other states, a private seller is not required to run a background check to sell a gun to you. I simply paid for the gun in a public parking lot and walked away. The third time I acquired a gun was when I traded the previously mentioned gun for my AR-15. This was done legally through the same private seller loophole, and the transaction took place in a Walmart parking lot. Finally, I traded my AR-15 to my uncle for a pistol. This took place in his living room. All of this was legal by the letter of the law. None of my guns are registered to my name.

As more and more massacres happened in our country I began to think about what the issue was. When I looked back at the ways I acquired my guns, I wondered if this process was really a safe one. Two men who sold me a weapon had no idea about my character, mental state, or background, and yet they sold to me anyway. Very often, the same legal process of purchasing guns has been performed by the shooters of various massacres in our country.

These incidences in our country brought me to begin researching independently for the causes of our gun problem in America. I've come to believe the process of owning a gun is far too lax in our country. The following stats serve to support this hypothesis.

How Do You Feel About Guns?

Gun Violence in America

America is the leader of the world in gun violence statistics.

America is the leader of the world in gun violence statistics.

Gun Death Statistics by State

The first thing I'd like to identify is exactly how many deaths we have by firearms in America, and break it down by state. Obviously smaller states will have fewer deaths due to population, so the rates are adjusted per 100,000 individuals for reference. I've broken the numbers down to see the rate of deaths as well as the total deaths by state.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention: The following number of deaths are per 100,000 individuals in 2016. These are broken down into five sections, ranging from the least deadly 10 states to the most deadly 10 states by deaths per 100,000 people.

3.4-9 deaths:

  • California (5.5 or 3,186 deaths)
  • Connecticut (4.6 or 172 deaths)
  • Maine (8.3 or 123)
  • Massachusetts (3.4 or 242 deaths) *This is the least deadly state by gun per 100,000 people*
  • Minnesota (7.6 or 432)
  • New Jersey (5.5 or 485)
  • New York (4.4 or 900)
  • Rhode Island (4.5 or 49) *Least deaths by gun in 2016*
  • Washington (9 or 686)

9.1-11.9 deaths:

  • Delaware (11 or 111)
  • Illinois (11.7 or 1,490)
  • Iowa (9.2 or 288)
  • Maryland (11.9 or 707)
  • Nebraska (9.1 or 171)
  • New Hampshire (9.3 132)
  • North Dakota (11.9 or 90)
  • Oregon (11.9 or 513)
  • Vermont (11.1 or 78)
  • Wisconsin (11.4 or 664)
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12-13.7 deaths:

  • Florida (12.6 or 2,704)
  • Kansas (13.4 or 383)
  • Michigan (12.3 or 1,230)
  • North Carolina (13.7 or 1,409)
  • Ohio (12.9 or 1524)
  • Pennsylvania (12 or 1,555)
  • South Dakota (13.4 or 108)
  • Texas (12.1 or 3,353) *Most deaths by gun in 2016*
  • Utah (12.9 or 370)
  • Virginia (12.1 or 1,049)

14.3-17.5 deaths:

  • Arizona (15.2 or 1,094)
  • Colorado (14.3 or 812)
  • Georgia (15 or 1,571)
  • Idaho (14.6 or 242)
  • Indiana (15 or 997)
  • Kentucky (17.5 772)
  • Nevada (16.8 or 498)
  • Tennessee (17.2 or 1,148)
  • West Virginia (17.5 or 332)
  • Wyoming (17.4 or 101)

17.7-22.3 deaths:

  • Alabama (21.5 or 1,046)
  • Alaska (23.3 or 177) *This is the most deadly state by gun per 100,000 people*
  • Arkansas (17.8 or 541)
  • Louisiana (21.3 or 987)
  • Mississippi (19.9 or 587)
  • Missouri (19 or 1,144)
  • Montana (18.9 or 194)
  • New Mexico (18.1 or 133)
  • Oklahoma (19.6 or 766)
  • South Carolina (17.7 or 891)

There were 38,551 total deaths by firearm in 2016.

How Many Gun Laws are in the United States?

There are 7 core gun laws, but arguably as many as 20,000 total specific laws pertaining to guns.

There are 7 core gun laws, but arguably as many as 20,000 total specific laws pertaining to guns.

Types of Gun Laws in the United States

One of the things that separate our states are the differences in gun laws between each one. Because gun laws are different between states, it's easy to assess how gun laws influence gun-related deaths based on the number of deaths we have in states that are more or less regulated by gun laws. There are various laws that can be adopted by each state, but there are 7 that are most common around the country.

According to the Washington Post and the Boston University School of Public Health State Firearm Law database, the following types of gun legislation occur in various states.

Red Flag Laws

The state allows law enforcement to initiate a process to confiscate firearms from any person (deemed by a judge) who represents a threat to themselves or others. California, Oregon, and Washington also allow family members to initiate this process.

Relinquishment Laws

The state mandates that any person who becomes disqualified from possessing a firearm (for example, because of a domestic abuse conviction) must turn in their firearms.

Assault Weapons Ban

The state prohibits the sale of assault weapons. (Congress banned assault weapons nationally in 1994, but the ban expired in 2004.)

High-Capacity Magazine Ban

State bans the sale of assault pistol ammunition and other high-capacity magazines.

Prohibitions for High-Risk Individuals

Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor, those with a history of mental health, drug or alcohol issues, or those considered by the court to be dangerous.

Prohibitions for Individuals With Domestic Violence Convictions

Firearm possession is prohibited for those convicted of domestic violence, those with a domestic-violence-related restraining order or those convicted of stalking.

Mandatory Universal Background Checks

The state requires a background check either at the point of purchase or through a permit requirement, including sales through private dealers and at gun shows.

Different State Gun Laws

Below is a table that breaks down each state and what laws they enforce within their borders. There is a mark for each law, a column for total laws enforced within the state, and the death rate by gun per 100,000 individuals. You can sort by column by clicking a column's header, and if you do so on the column that indicates the number of laws enforced, you'll see a correlation between the number of laws enforced and the number of gun-related deaths.

Deadliest States for Guns

StateRed Flag LawsRelinquishment LawsAssault Weapon BanHigh Capacity Magazine RestrictionHigh Risk IndividualsDomestic ViolenceMandatory Background ChecksTotal Number of Laws In PlaceDeaths Per 100,000