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of 2015, there were almost 300 million guns in the world (Scott Horsley, 2016).
Forty-three percent of Americans were gun owners in 2015, but how many of them were
used legally and for the right reasons (Christopher Ingraham, 2016)? In the
United States alone, nearly 37,000 people died due to a firearm related issue in
2015 (Firearm Mortality by State, 2016). The Second Amendment of the United
States Constitution grants the right to bear arms, meaning citizens are allowed
to own a gun. Certain states allow their inhabitants to openly carry a
gun.  “Open carry” means that you have
the ability to carry an exposed gun. Many wonder if these laws are causing our
world to become violent. It
is found that states with the right to open carry have a high firearm death
rate. However, contrary to popular belief, the main reason of these high
firearm death rates in each state is more due to the factor of poverty rather
than the rights to open carry.

            For open carry laws and regulations,
thirty states require a permit, fifteen states do not require a permit, and
five states do not allow open carry at all (Open Carry, 2017). Again, the term “open
carry” refers to the carry of an exposed gun. However, citizens who live in a
state that requires a permit have the choice between having their gun fully
exposed or fully concealed. When a state does not need their resident to have a
permit in order to carry a gun, they must have their guns holstered and visible
when they want to carry it out in public places. (Joanne Kimberlin, 2008).

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            In 2015, The top five highest
firearm death rates were: Alaska at 23.4%, Louisiana at 20.4%, Alabama,
Wyoming, and Mississippi all at 19.6%, Montana at 19.2%, and finally New Mexico
at 18.6%. (Firearm Mortality by State, 2016). All of these states allow open
carry without a permit. The top five highest poverty rates, meaning they are
the top five poorest states, were: Mississippi at 22%, New Mexico at 20.4%,
Louisiana at 19.6%, Arkansas at 19.1%, and finally Alabama and Kentucky tied at
18.5% (Janelle Jones, 2016). However, if you notice, almost all of the states
listed as having one of the top five highest poverty rates are also listed as
having one of the top five highest firearm death rates. There is no doubt that
the restriction of open carry all together would lessen these death rates;
however, it may not be substantial because you will still have your poor states
no matter what. The open carry laws are very controversial and cause many
disputes (Maura Ewing, 2017). Is it really safer for Americans to own a gun in
their house when they do not use it for hunting or other sporting reasons?

5 Highest Poverty Rate and their Firearm Death Rate

State Name

Poverty Rate

Firearm Death Rate




New Mexico












Chart created from information on
(Firearm Mortality by State, 2016) and (Janelle Jones, 2016)

            The chart above is showing the top
five poorest states in relation to their firearm death rate. It shows the
connection of how poverty causes violence, or in this case many gun related
deaths. All of the rates listed above, whether it’s a poverty rate or a death
rate, are extremely high. Not one of these states shows a high poverty rate
with a low death rate. It proves the point that open carry is not the only
factor in a potentially high death rate.


created based on information from (Firearm Mortality by State, 2016)


            The chart above displays the average
firearm death rate of each open carry category; required permit, no permit
required, and not allowed. When looking at the chart, it is evident that the
average firearm death rate is essentially the same for each category, with a
minor increase in the states that do not require a permit. Therefore, this
chart is showing how the open carry factor has little to nothing to do with the
firearm death rate. In fact, the five states that do not allow the open carry
of a gun have the same death rate as the states that require a permit, which is
very shocking. The lowest firearm death rate is Massachusetts at 3%. This state
allows open carry with a permit. The five states that do not allow open carry
all have a higher rate than that. The highest rate of the states that do not
tolerate open carry is 17.3%, which is extremely high considering the highest
rate out of all fifty states is 23.4%(Firearm Mortality by State). You are able
to conclude that the laws, regulations, and the allowing of open carry only
have a minor impact on the
firearm death rate. Yes, in order to commit a firearm crime, you must have a
gun, however many people can obtain a gun illegally, steal it, borrow it
from someone else who owns it, or get it in any other similar situation.

            Poverty can cause many people to act
violent or cruel towards another person. When looking at the statistics of
poverty rates compared to firearm death rates, it is very noticeable that the
poor states are linked to high firearm death rates. For example, Mississippi is
the poorest of the fifty states. When looking at the death rates, you will see
that Mississippi also has the third highest death rate. When looking at the
other side of the scale, it is charted that New Hampshire, was the richest of
the 50 states in 2015, at a poverty rate of 8.2%, the lowest. New Hampshire had
a firearm death rate of 8.9% which is a very low rate given that the highest is
23.4% (Janelle Jones, 2016). There is a correlation between both poverty rates
and death rates.

             Take South Carolina for an example. This state
does not permit open carry at all. They have firearm death rate of 17.3%
(Firearm Mortality by State, 2016). Again, the highest firearm death rate is
23.4%. South Carolina’s poverty rate is 16.6% (Janelle Jones, 2016). This state
is a perfect example showing that the factor of open carry does not affect the
firearm death rate. This state does not allow open carry and they have one of
the highest death rates and poverty rates out of all fifty states. But if this
state does not allow open carry, how are the people getting the guns? That is a
huge issue in the states as well.

            Is there any way to really fix the
issue of violence in general? We could start by increasing the safety on gun
violence.  One of the biggest questions
posed in society is if the open carry laws make our world safer or less safe. Based
on statistics, the abolishment of this law may decrease the death rates only
insignificantly, because we know that the main reason for misconduct in gun use
is poverty. In order to decrease these firearm death rates, we need to abolish
poverty not the open carry law.