"For better or worse, we are what we learned as children." -- Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem

Friday, April 22, 2022

Safe for Retirement?

      Look, I'll say right up front that I don't like guns. The only gun I ever shot was a .22 in back of my uncle's house in the Connecticut woods when I was about 9 years old. So I'm all in favor of stricter gun regulations, which to my mind seem perfectly consistent with the 2nd amendment. I mean, we can't park a tank in our front yard or sport nuclear weapons in our garage, can we? So it's not much of a stretch to think we shouldn't be arming ourselves with military grade repeating rifles either.

     But my point here is not to argue for or against gun control. Maybe some people feel safer if they're carrying a firearm. I don't agree with them. But nobody's putting me on the Supreme Court to rule about the issue.

     The fact is, the federal government has very few gun laws. Some gun attachments, such as high capacity magazines, are banned, but for the most part gun laws are enacted by the states.

     We know that a lot of places have stricter gun laws, while other places have virtually no gun laws at all. So I'm just offering here, as a public service, a list of the states that allow "permitless carry." In other words, you can carry a weapon in public without a license. So now you can decide if you want to retire to a permitless gun state, or if you'd rather go to a place that limits people's ability to pack deadly weapons.

     Of course, there are always details in the laws. For example, in Arizona you can carry a concealed handgun without a permit. But you do need a permit to carry a gun "into a establishment that serves alcohol for consumption on the premises." Also, a few states such as Alabama and Indiana have passed new laws allowing "permitless carry" that won't go into effect until later this year.

     With that, here are the 25 states where you can carry a gun without a license (and at what age):

  1. Alabama -- 19                                                                                 
  2. Alaska -- 21
  3. Arizona -- 21
  4. Arkansas, -- 21, 18 for military
  5. Georgia  --21, 18 for military
  6. Indiana -- 18
  7. Idaho -- 18
  8. Iowa -- 21
  9. Kansas -- 21
  10. Kentucky -- 21
  11. Maine -- 21
  12. Mississippi -- 18
  13. Missouri -- 19
  14. Montana -- 18
  15. New Hampshire -- 19
  16. North Dakota -- 18
  17. Ohio -- 21
  18. Oklahoma -- 18
  19. South Dakota -- 21, 18 for military
  20. Tennessee - -21, 18 for military
  21. Texas -- 21
  22. Utah -- 21
  23. Vermont -- 18
  24. West Virginia -- 21, 18 for military
  25. Wyoming -- 21

     If you want more details, you can shoot on over to this list of Permitless Carry States, or target a report from the World Population Review.

     Now, if you're a little leery of living in the "Wild West" where guns are popular and prevalent, you might consider retiring to a state with stricter gun laws.

     California has the strictest gun laws, followed by Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island. These states typically require background checks and a waiting period, and sometimes training, before someone is allowed to buy a gun.

     Many states are more in the middle, with just a few limits on guns. A typical example might be North Carolina, which requires a permit to purchase and carry a handgun, but not a rifle or shotgun. Perhaps not coincidentally, North Carolina has a gun-death rate that's just about average for the country, at 13 per hundred thousand people per year.

     The U. S. state with the lowest death rate is Rhode Island, with just over 3 gun deaths per hundred thousand. RI is followed by fellow gun-law states like Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California. I can't tell you what conclusion to draw from this. You'll just have to make your own decision.

     Maybe it depends on how good a shot you are, or how fast you are with a trigger. So if you're a quick-draw, you might feel comfortable living in Mississippi (23 deaths), Wyoming (21) or Missouri (21). But if you're slow on the uptake, like I am, or a little nervous about an 18-year-old packing heat, you'd better stay in the Northeast . . . or move to Hawaii.


Anonymous said...

My opinion on gun control was formed at the age of 13, when a classmate shot and killed a fellow classmate. They were "playing" with the gun of the father of the kid who was killed. I'm 71 now and the other evening a high school friend and I were talking on the phone when this incident came up and brought us both to tears.

I believe that the majority of citizens are in favor of stricter gun laws, but the NRA owns most of our elected officials so I hold out little hope that we will ever see them enacted. I appreciate the list, though, and may move to a state with stricter laws. But as last week's shooting on the train in NYC proved, their tougher laws are meaningless as long as people can simply carry guns over their border.

ApacheDug said...

My God! Tom I know you presented this in a very neutral fashion, but it still gave me real chills. By the way, this was excellent and I am forwarding it on to my sister and a couple friends. I am also in complete agreement with your first commenter, and politicians being in the NRA's pocket. It's no wonder most of the world sees the US as still living in the Wild West.

Ed said...

While I appreciate a need for stricter gun laws, I would never equate the safety of my life to how gun permits are issued. Things are never that black and white. For example, my state lets you carry a gun without a permit and according to websites has more gun related deaths per capita than say New York. If you track gun related injuries, not deaths, the roles are reversed. My take on that is that perhaps residents of my state are just better shots and thus more likely to kill what they are shooting at or possibly due to the rural nature of our state, just more likely to die from wounds due to inadequate healthcare.

Also, the majority of gun deaths are due to suicide. Does this change perceptions? Or how about other forms of violence? Alaska has one of the higher death rates by gun but lowest chances of getting raped?

I don’t know the answers but I do know I would highly recommend where I live to any retiree as a safe place over Trenton, New York City or Los Angeles.

Olga said...

My late husband was a gun collector, and I could see him becoming more influenced by NRA propaganda. I was able to push back and get him to examine sources, but it was very clear to me how dangerous misinformation can be long before the Trump era. I literally dreamed last night about getting rid of his collection -- which, by the way, I had his permission to do before he passed.

Now, living in Vermont, I know a few responsible gun owners and hunters. Interestingly, they are not NRA members. I won't be subtle about it: I am convinced you can't keep a clear head under a diet of misinformation and propaganda.

Arkansas Patti said...

Couldn't agree more. This Thursday my area was under lock down and told to stay inside and lock doors. I live near a tiny town but someone had killed 4 people in their own homes in a short time. I knew I took my chances going to Walmart or a public venue anywhere but this was the first time my own home was not safe.
I vote where I feel I can so some good but the gun lobby is very strong in Arkansas. Sad times.

Tom said...

Nina -- In Arizona you might actually be safer in a bar where people have to have a permit! Doug -- Thanks. Ed -- I agree, it's better if the gun owners are good shots, meaning they have knowledge and training and are not some cowboy wannabes who don't know what they're doing. Olga -- I don't follow the NRA but I assume it's all guns all the time and so I agree with you ... tho' I was surprised to find out that Bernie Sanders' home state has no gun laws; and Patti -- Stay safe!

Miss Merry said...

I live in a permitless state (used to need a permit and license until, you know). My 40 yr old neighbor was telling me she keeps her glock locked and loaded on her end table. One summer evening she ran out with it when she thought she heard gun shots. It was kids with firecrackers. Luckily she didn't shot them. She has kids in and out of her house all the time. I find losing the former requirements of background checks and a gun safety course terrifying, especially with the proliferation of high capacity firearms. My son is a police officer. Anyone he interacts with is no longer required to inform him they have a concealed firearm.

Rian said...

I'm not against people owning guns, but I do believe in stronger regulations and enforcement. And I do think if someone is going to carry a gun, they need to have a permit and instruction. Texas is a no permit required state... and does it make me uneasy - yes.

Linda Myers said...

I think we are nuts in the US to be able to draw a conclusion, from a Second Amendment written well over 200 years ago when our country was quite different - and the intent of the Amendment pertained to a militia - that we're all entitled to the "freedom" to carry a gun. I won't even be tactful or politically correct about this. Especially in these politically-charged times. My husband has several guns, all used for hunting. He keeps them in a locked cabinet, with the key to the cabinet and the ammunition somewhere else where even I don't know the location. It still scared me when I first found out about it. If a person needs to hunt to feed his family, that's one thing. Or maybe defend his livestock. But neither of those situations require a military assault weapon. It embarrasses me that people who are citizens of the same country as me have so little sense.

Fred said...

I believe many of the wild west towns did not allow firearms to be carried in town. It was common sense that if you carried in a populated area, you were looking for trouble. We currently allow a minority opinion to overrule the common sense of a significant majority. We find the minority preventing progress in numerous other areas. The list includes healthcare, Social Security, vaccinations and separation of church and state. One has to wonder if the majority will be required to resort to the methods of the minority in order to achieve progress.

Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged said...

I don't understand our country's obsession with guns... never have, never will. I am happy to live in a state with stricter regulations. Even though many police officers tend to be on the conservative side, I wonder how they feel about doing their job knowing that many citizens have concealed weapons on them.

Rita said...

It's upsetting and distressing that we have so many guns in America and the gun laws are so lax. This week, my former husband's niece was shot dead in her sleep by her son who had mental health issues. He then shot himself.

In the United States, suicides outnumber homicides almost two to one. Perhaps the real tragedy behind suicide deaths—about 30,000 a year, one for every 45 attempts—is that so many could be prevented. Research shows that whether attempters live or die depends in large part on the ready availability of highly lethal means, especially firearms.

Laurie Stone said...

Teenagers permitted to carry guns into bars. What could go wrong? The whole thing is insane.

Diane Stringam Tolley said...

I find this chilling. Here in Canada, the gun laws are a bit more constricting. Applications and wait periods. Sadly all the stories of gun violence make me hesitant to visit my beloved sister country to the south--even though half of my family lives there!

Rebecca Olkowski said...

I'll stay in reasonable California, thank you. Glad to hear it has the strictest gun laws. We definitely have a problem with illegal guns here because of our population but at least no one is toting one openly on the street.

Kay said...

The NRA has such a horrible hold on our government that it feels like nothing can be done to get rid of most guns. Hawaii is supposed to have better gun laws and yet our gun crimes are rising here as well. It's very discouraging.

Jack said...

Tom, before we pass any more laws on guns lets make the FBI and Police responsible to enforce the laws we currently have. Many mass shootings could have been prevented had the warns on concerned citizens been followed. The Orlando Club shooter was reported by his father to the FBI. Students warned the school and police that Nicholas Cruz was dangerous and the Parkland school administration and police did nothing. Everyone in Law Enforcement who does nothing when they are pre-warned of a possible incident by a violent person with guns needs to be fired and lose their pension. It is not the NRA's job to take guns away from Nut Jobs existing laws allow police to confiscate guns from people who should not buy or own them.

Kevin In Virginia said...

Tom, Rita's comment resonates. It might be useful to illustrate the number of gun deaths associated with suicides. My expectation is that the correlation is very high. Thanks for presenting this critical issue.

Jennifer (UnfoldAndBegin) said...

Surprised that Florida is not on that list but knowing this Governor, it's just a matter of time.

Barbara said...

Permitless gun carrying is about the stupidist thing I have ever heard of. Yes, I live in Texas and I am ashamed to be surrounded by such thinking.

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