The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 13, 2013

Spear: Do more guns equal more safety or more fear?

— If you’re in a crowded pub in Mankato on a Friday night where about 100-150 people have gathered, it’s likely two or three people are carrying a firearm under their coat.

Same crowd in North Mankato: There’s probably only one or two packing heat.

If you happen to go on vacation to Minnesota’s north woods and stop at a watering hole in Grand Marais, there are almost 10 people likely to be carrying a concealed weapon for every 150 people in the bar. If you’re visiting Rock County in the far southwest corner of Minnesota, barely one person would likely have a firearm in a crowd of 100 people.

See permit numbers, ratios in a searchable report here.

The gun-carrying ratio varies a lot from county to county in Minnesota, and it may offer some clues as to just how safe a community feels to people, depending, of course, on your perspective. Some people would feel safer if more people carried guns; others would feel less safe.

The vast majority of us in Blue Earth and Nicollet County don’t have a permit to carry a gun.

But the news in the recent past has inundated us with tales of how people who lived in what they thought were safe communities found themselves in the midst of horrific gun violence. Twenty young school children gunned down in Newtown, Conn. Dozens injured and many killed in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater. Dozens killed in a rampage at Virginia Tech. A congresswoman shot in the head in a grocery store parking lot.

The solutions were predictable. More guns. Fewer guns.

But some of the more interesting commentary comes from those who point to larger issues, such as a culture where we have to fear just about everything.

Free Press letter writer Larry Kiewel of Belle Plaine described this particularly well. “The events in Newtown, Conn., do not point to a poverty of law. They point to a poverty of spirit. This poverty of spirit shows itself as fear.”

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