The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 13, 2013

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

(Continued)

He goes on to describe this fear manifesting itself when it gets so great that loaded guns are left around the house and two children are killed, two teenagers are shot multiple times as they broke into a home, and a grandfather awoken in the night shoots his granddaughter not knowing who she is.

“The NRA is wrong,” writes Kiewel. “When individuals take their safety into their own hands, the community is less safe.”

Of the hundreds of letters I read in a year, I cannot remember one that stopped me like this. But the thesis may be more interesting if we can link it to data. We may be able to link data to this fear quotient and measure how much fear we have by county in Minnesota.

We can assess one measure of fear by taking a look at the conceal-and-carry gun permits issued by each county and dividing that by the number of people in that county who are legally able to get a permit. In this case, we can simplify by using the population over 21 years of age, the age you have to be to get a permit, as the basic eligibility factor.

We can come up with a “fear factor” by county. Those with the more permits per 21 plus population would be considered more “fearful.”

The equation assumes people who carry a concealed weapon have a certain amount of fear. It is a generalization, and possibly an unfair measure, but the results are nonetheless interesting. We used the number of existing permits in Minnesota as of Dec. 31.

The tip of the arrowhead in Minnesota — Cook County — appears to be a place where 1 of every 16 people over 21 has a conceal-and-carry gun permit, the highest ratio in Minnesota. It’s a number equivalent to about 6.3 percent of the over 21 population.

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