THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 418, May 20, 2007
"...at least something useful is getting done around here"
Gun Owners Prevent Crimes;
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
For several weeks now, Tom Knapp has been sending me his Rational Review news digest. You can get it by visiting www.rationalreview.com/news/ or by using their handy link to sign up to have it shoved into your e-mail inbox every weekday. At least once a week, it comes out "web only" and sometimes I crawl through the posts on the web site. Three or four days a week, it contains some story that I find interesting, and several that I find nowhere else, and clicking on these links gives me some better idea of what's going on.
One of the areas of reporting that Tom's team does really well, thanks to people like Mary Lou Seymour, Steve Trinward, R. Lee Wrights, and Brad Spangler, is report on gun-related news stories. These are not only stories about the oppression of gun owners in various states by various agencies, but also about gun owners preventing crimes, saving lives, and protecting property. Of considerable interest to me is the apparent geographical distribution of these stories.
There are certain places where gun ownership is reviled, actively opposed by the state, and where stories about gun owners preventing crime are thin on the pages. There are other places where gun ownership is actively supported, not only by limited governmental interference, but also by newsmedia cognizant of the fact that gun owners make a difference every day. There are several inferences which I've drawn from this review.
First, it seems obvious that the places where it has been unlawful to own or carry a gun are places where gun owners are necessarily hesitant to use their guns such that news reports would be made. So, cities like New York City, which has had a victim disarmament law since 1917, is a place where gun owners are often afraid of being noticed. They'll do their good work, but avoid attention as much as possible, or face potentially severe consequences.
Second, it seems clear that in many places where the newsmedia are not carrying stories about gun owners doing good things, those gun owners exist and do well by their families and neighbors. So, there is a problem with the local or regional media. It may be possible to support alternative media sources to keep getting the word out.
Third, it seems to me that liberty-minded individualists are better off in places where gun ownership is not only accepted, but embraced. Therefore, I'd like to see if I can isolate the regions using some sort of mapping exercise.
For purposes of my analysis, I have used a national map of the uSA. It is, of course, possible to map by countrywhich someone in the International Society for Individual Liberty http://www.isil.org/ might wish to do.
There is, of course, a necessary criticism of the state-by-state approach I've taken, which is necessarily an overview by state. If you don't like the color of your state, it may be that certain counties are weighting things badly for you. My guess is that you could take up an analysis by county and isolate the problem further. Perhaps Illinois would look better if Chicago's counties weren't so red? You can find out. Travel around your state, get a picture of the news by picking up local papers in various rural counties, and build your own model. Please feel free to write with your results or maps.
So, here's my algorithm. I built a spreadsheet with the name of each state in column A, the number of newsstories I found with a positive view of gun owner behavior in fighting crime in column B, the number of newsstories extolling victim disarmament in column C, a value for the difficulties for gun owners imposed by government based on the mapping of a pro-gun group in column D, and a summary value generated in column E.
For column D, the state gets a 10 if it is a gold star open carry state, according to http://www.opencarry.org/ or a 5 if it is an anomalous open carry state, a 4 if it is a licensed open carry state, a 3 if it is a rural open carry state, a zero if indeterminate, and a negative 10 if it is restrictive. I personally don't give a hoot if your state licenses concealed carry, as only a fool would seek a license for a hidden behavior. As well, open carry prevents more crimes by being an open deterrent. Obviously, I was uncertain about making licensed open carry better than rural-only open carry, but I felt that the city populations being harmed was of considerable significance in this model.
For column E, the value is B minus C plus D. That is, your state got a higher value if there were lots of newsstories indicating the positive work of gun owners. Your state got a lower value if there were lots of newsstories pushing for victim disarmament or gushing about the latest tyranny. Your state got a higher value if it leaves gun owners more alone and a lower value if it screws with us more. Yes, stories reporting that the jerks in your state or county or city governments have proposed some new vileness count against you.
Obviously, the two states which map as rural open carry, California and Illinois, would benefit from a county-by-county analysis. Other states would, presumably, as well.
Here is a graphical presentation of those results.
There are not very many surprises, given the map on the Open Carry web site. Of course, I make fewer distinctions on my map. There are only four categories for me, from golden to magenta. Perhaps I should review what I think these categories mean.
The golden states either have extraordinarily pro-gun and, therefore, necessarily, pro-property laws, or mediocre laws and a very positive few of gun ownership in available newsmedia, or both. There are obviously states that are more golden than others, where popular culture and political tendencies promote more freedom, and where taxes are lower. Adding these other issues is food for a later essay and map.
The orange states are mediocre for various reasons. None of the states that show as gold on the Open Carry map were reduced to orange. Several states that were mediocre legally were much improved by lots of articles on the virtues of armed victims.
Pink states are bad. I wouldn't want to live in one. Nothing about the laws supports gun owners and very few articles suggest that gun ownership is a blessing. It would be my suggestion to people who live in such states to migrate to gold or orange states, where your property is safer and you are more likely to find freedom enthusiasts.
Magenta states are horrid. These places are completely without merit. You don't want to be in any of them. You don't want to travel through them. If you must travel through one of these states, gas up before entering and after leaving, so as to support their economies as little as possible. Keep your money away from these statist jerks. Your life, your liberty, and your property is endangered in these places. Get out of New York, DC, South Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Abandon all hope, ye who enter there.
A few words on my methodology. I reviewed 161 article summaries from Rational Review's web site. Of these, 148 articles were positive ones, and 13 were negative.
States with bad or horrid laws were improved in the cases of California by 8 positive articles, Texas by 19 positive articles, Indiana by 7 positive articles, Ohio by 6 positive articles, Georgia by 7 positive ones, Pennsylvania by 14 positive articles, and New Hampshire by 4 positive ones.
The worst states carry no surprises for me. Oklahoma is so authoritarian it banned tattoo parlors for decades. Arkansas chose Bill Clinton as governor. And South Carolina has impressed me as notoriously pro-government, including a significant hyper-fundamentalist claque. New York, DC, and Florida are unsurprising as bad places for freedom. Florida is the least bad of these, with 7 positive articles on gun ownership.
One of the pleasant results of this study is the large number of states with a cumulative rating of 9 or higher. Nineteenth of these is North Carolina, followed by Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Alabama. Crossing over into a rating of 10 or higher brings us the state of Washington, Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. Earning 11 are Indiana, Georgia, and Ohio. Vermont comes in with a 12 at number 7 in the country. Better yet are New Mexico and Idaho with rankings of 13, Kentucky and Virginia with 14, Arizona with 16, and Pennsylvania at 19. I am amazed to see Pennsylvania leading the nation in this analysis.
Returning to methodology for a moment, there are many states that obviously were held back by a scarcity of articles. I suspect that this lacuna represents a limitation of Rational Review as a source of media input. (I picked it because it was familiar and easy to use.) States with zero articles are Alaska, Montana, Wyoming, both North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Maryland. I certainly could have found Rational Review articles had I gone further back in their archives, but after 161 articles, I got tired.
So, looking further at these nineteen best states on the intersection of gun laws and gun culture, I thought about taxes. Certainly the states with the worst tax burden should be put out of the running. So, I visited this page. The retirement living information center simply has the top listing in Google for taxes by state. Vermont has the highest tax burden, Alaska the lowest.
So, using their rankings, I devised a quintile ssytem, adding twenty points for being in the 40-50th rank by burden, ten points for being in 30 to 39th rank, zero for being 20 to 29, negative ten for being 10 to 19, and negative twenty for being below tenth.
Doing so threw Ohio, Vermont, North Carolina, and Washington state out. Taxes are way too high. Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and even Idaho are marginalized.
Which gives me a top ten list of states that have lower taxes, better gun laws for open carry, and better gun culture represented in news articles of recent vintage. At number ten, Virginia.
I should point out that DC remains the cellar dweller on all these criteria, with Maryland way down and Virginia eking into the top ten. These results lend credence to my theory that the further from the national capital one gets, the more freedom one finds. The same is presumably true within each state by distance from the state capitol building.
At number nine, Arizona. Golden on gun laws for open carry, six positive articles on gun ownership, zero negative articles, and 31st rank for taxes.
Number eight is Tennessee. Mediocre gun laws, with six positive articles and one negative one, forty-eighth rank in taxes. This state spans the Appalachians and noses West toward the Ozark Mountains, but is far too populous in the middle for my taste.
Number seven is Alabama. Mediocre gun laws, with four positive articles on gun ownership. Forty-sixth rank for taxes.
Number six is New Hampshire. The Free State Project was not terrible on this choice, in my view. I've seen lots of goodness at the New Hampshire Underground web forum, and would not hesitate to locate a business there. Mediocre gun laws, four positive articles on gun ownership, and 49th rank on tax burden makes New Hampshire quite impressive. No income tax, no sales tax.
Number five is Montana. I'm very comfortable in Montana, and have enjoyed all my visits there. Excellent gun laws. No coverage of gun issues reached Rational Review, positive or negative. Forty-first rank in tax burden.
Number four is Wyoming. Again, excellent state, where I have located several businesses. Excellent corporation laws, low incorporation fees. Top marks on gun laws. Their news media didn't get picked up in recent Rational Review articles that I saw, either way. Forty-second in the country on taxes. They have no income tax, and a fairly low state sales tax. There are moves afoot to further reduce or eliminate the sales tax, as the state is doing very well with severance taxes on minerals extracted from the state.
Number three is South Dakota. Again, the coverage of their newsmedia is simply not in Rational Review, positive nor negative. Excellent gun laws. Forty-fourth rank on taxes. They have the enjoyable Sturgis Bike Rally every Summer.
Number two is Alaska. Top notch gun laws. Zero coverage in the media. Fiftieth rank on taxescan't get lower than that. They also offer a share of the severance tax bounty direct to every resident of the state. Better it should be rebated, in my opinion, than spent on crazy government projects.
And. . . the number one state on these criteria turns out to be New Mexico. Superb gun laws, three positive articles, no negative ones on gun ownership. Fortieth in the nation on taxes. (Obviously, that quintile was larger than the others, which accounts for this surprise in the results.) Good to have a warm state in the top five, huh?
It is interesting, as well, that the lower population states such as Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and South Dakota show up with lower taxes and better gun culture. The same is true of population densityit appears to be inversely proportional to freedom. Which strongly suggests that space enthusiasts are right in wanting a frontier which is infinite in all directions.
What about moving? I am. I'm unhappy with Kansas and Texas, and have plans to put business enterprises in all of the top ten states.
Should you move? I cannot take choices for you. But if you are living in one of the magenta or pink states, you should ask yourself: why? What do you have there that you couldn't get somewhere else? Why not hop the border?
Every pink state and every magenta state is adjacent to at least one orange or golden state. You'd be safer, happier, more prosperous, and closer to neighbors able to defend your freedom if you moved.
Looking out my window just now, I see two sparrows engaged in repeated mating activity. Pretty birds. So, if this article doesn't please you, at least something useful is getting done around here.