The trend in gun sales changed last year, compared to most other years in the past decade. Gun sales, using the NICS Firearms Background Check as a proxy, reached 38,876,673 in 2021. That was down from 2020. However, guns sales in most years since 2010 have risen year over year.
Gun control is challenging, not just because so many guns are sold each year. There are probably 400 million guns already in the hands of civilians, police and the military.
Gun regulations are mostly done at the state level. Some are very strict. However, in a number of states, people can carry guns in the open. National laws have been impossible to pass because many people believe ownership is based on the Constitution.
The 27 words of the Second Amendment have been one of the most, if not the most, scrutinized sections of the U.S. Constitution in modern American history. The gun-rights debate usually centers around two phrases in the amendment: “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” and “a well regulated Militia.”
Opponents of gun control laws argue the first phrase guarantees the absolute right of individuals to own firearms. Supporters of strict gun control measures, on the other hand, believe that the amendment simply guarantees a state’s right to self-defense (to have a “well regulated Militia”) but does not prohibit states from regulating private firearm ownership.
To determine the state with the worst gun laws, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2020 Annual Gun Law Scorecard from the Giffords Law Center (led by former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, herself a gun violence victim), which ranks states on the strength of gun laws and policy and assigns a letter grade. Giffords Law Center attorneys assign point values based on strength and weaknesses of state laws and policies and compare these values to gun death rates released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The term “generally,” in the information for some states, means in the majority of cases, with some exceptions.
Despite the feelings of the public, the strict partisan divide over the issue means that many states have very loose gun-ownership rules. Those with stronger restrictions in place can do little to stem the flow of firearms from less-regulated states. One bill currently before the House Judiciary Committee, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, would even force states with stricter gun laws to accept concealed carry permits issued in states with less stringent laws.
The state with the worst gun laws is Mississippi. Its gun law grade in 2020 is F. The gun death rate of 24.23 per 100,000 people was the second highest.
Mississippi does not require a permit for openly carrying guns in public, but it prohibits gun owners from exhibiting the weapon aggressively in the presence of three or more people. Violators may be fined $500 and up to three months in jail. In 2016, the state scrapped rules requiring individuals to obtain a permit to carry loaded, hidden handguns in a certain type of holster in public, with a few exceptions.
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