Safety First

Safest and Most Dangerous States, 2012

The second annual edition of the United States Peace Index, produced by Institute for Economics and Peace, measures peacefulness according to five indicators: the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, number of police employees and the availability of small arms.

Rank State
1. Maine
2. Vermont
3. New Hampshire
4. Minnesota
5. Utah
6. North Dakota
7. Washington
8. Hawaii, c
9. Rhode Island
10. Iowa
11. Nebraska
12. Massachusetts
13. Oregon
14. Connecticut
15. West Virginia
16. Idaho
17. Wyoming
18. Montana
19. Wisconsin
20. South Dakota
21. Kentucky
22. Ohio
23. Indiana
24. Pennsylvania
25. Virginia
26. Colorado
27. Kansas
28. New Jersey
29. Michigan
30. North Carolina
31. New York
32. California
33. Alaska
34. New Mexico
35. Illinois
36. Georgia
37. Oklahoma
38. Maryland
39. Delaware
40. Mississippi
41. Alabama
42. South Carolina
43. Arkansas
44. Texas
45. Missouri
46. Arizona
47. Florida
48. Nevada
49. Tennessee
50. Louisiana
Source: 2012 United States Peace Index.

Read more: Safest and Most Dangerous States, 2012 —

Here’s what I find interesting about the above list:  Vermont, which is the second safest state in the country, has the United States’ most liberal gun laws, summarized here by Wikipedia:

Vermont has very few gun control laws. Gun dealers are required to keep a record of all handgun sales. It is illegal to carry a gun on school property or in a courthouse. State law preempts local governments from regulating the possession, ownership, transfer, carrying, registration or licensing of firearms.[1]

The term “Vermont Carry” is widely used by gun rights advocates to refer to allowing citizens to carry a firearm concealed or openly without any sort of permit requirement, however this term is being replaced by the term “Constitutional Carry”. Vermont law does not distinguish between residents and non-residents of the state; both have the same right to carry while in Vermont.

The Vermont Constitution of 1777, dating well before the Bill of Rights to a time when Vermont was an independent republic, guarantees certain freedoms and rights to the citizens: “That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State – and as standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be kept up; and that the military should be kept under strict subordination to and governed by the civil power.”[2]

In Maine (we’re #1!) and New Hampshire, the other safest states, access to firearms and getting a concealed carry permit is pretty straightforward.  So, you might surmise, perhaps the answer to controlling violence and crime is more liberal gun laws?  Well, not so fast.  As you see on the list, states like Texas (#44), Arizona (#46) and Florida (#47) are among the most dangerous of States, yet they have similarly liberal gun control laws and “shall issue” CCW (concealed carry) gun permits.  Could it be that gun laws (restrictive OR liberal) have NOTHING TO DO with cause-and-effect in determining a State’s level of safety and violence?

If guns – their prevalence, accessibility, or lack thereof – – are not a catalyst for the number of homicides, number of violent crimes, the incarceration rate, etc., what other factors might be more reliable in determining the positive reason for an individual State’s safety and quality of life?  Is it not interesting that the 10 most dangerous States are Southern and/or are on the Mexican border?  Could specific regional, cultural, economic, racial, religious, health care (i.e. how a State addresses and guides treatment for mental illness), education level, substance abuse levels, or population density factors be primarily responsible?  I don’t have the answers, but I do think problems and rates of violence may be about a lot more than guns . . . and worth studying.

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