Credit Hawaii’s gun controls for lowest firearm death rate
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control show that Hawaii has the lowest gun death rate in the nation.
FIGURES showing that Hawaii is last in the country in gun deaths per capita
should put to rest the notion that an armed citizenry is safer. However, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering an appeal of a decision that, if upheld, could dismantle strong gun controls that have contributed to Hawaii's low number of deaths by firearms.
An analysis by the Violence Policy Center of 2005 data collected by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that Hawaii is lowest in both household gun ownership -- 9.7 percent -- and gun deaths per 100,000 -- 2.2. The national per capita gun death rate was 10.3 per 100,000.
The organization, which supports gun controls, points out that Southern and Western states with weak gun laws and high rates of gun ownership lead the nation in overall firearm death rates. The top five states had household gun ownership rates ranging from 46.4 percent to 60.6 percent and gun death rates of 16.2 percent to 19 percent.
The Supreme Court heard arguments last month and is expected to rule in June on the appeal of a 2-1 decision by a federal appeals panel that the District of Columbia's gun controls violate the Second Amendment. Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett joined three other state attorneys general in urging the high court to overturn the ruling. They expressed concern that the ruling, if upheld, will "cast a cloud" over all federal and state gun controls.
Meanwhile, other states are under pressure for the gun lobby to loosen controls, allowing everybody who can get a gun permit to carry concealed firearms wherever they wish. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine vetoed a bill last month that would have allowed concealed handguns in restaurants.
In the last day of its session, the Georgia legislature this month approved a bill that would allow concealed handguns in restaurants that serve alcohol, in state parks and on public buses and trains, including Atlanta's transit system.
Beverly A. Scott, general manager of the transit system, calls the bill "insanity," and has joined Atlanta's law-enforcement and business leaders and mayor in urging Gov. Sonny Perdue to veto the bill. Fearful public transit workers are distributing a petition calling for bulletproof partitions to separate drivers and operators from passengers.
Unlike Hawaii, Georgia does not require a person to give a good reason for carrying a concealed gun in order to obtain a permit. Anybody who is at least 21 years old and submits to a criminal background check can get a concealed gun permit in Georgia, where the gun death rate already is more than five times that of Hawaii.
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