The Safest State Also Has the “Craziest” Gun Laws

Authored by: Matt Palumbo

Does Vermont have the nation’s craziest gun laws? That’s certainly what liberals seem to think.

One of their States Senators, Bernie Sanders, found himself under attack from his fellow candidates during the 2016 Democrat primary for the “crime” of having “only” a D- rating from the NRA. In particular, Sanders found himself defending a completely rational vote of his; when in 2005 he voted in favor of legislation granting gun manufacturers legal immunity from being sued by gun victims.

Rival Hillary Clinton specifically attacked Vermont’s lax gun laws as fueling gun problems in other States, but she never went into the specifics of Vermont’s gun laws – or gun crime in the State. Let’s just see what some liberals are saying:

  • In 2009, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said that Vermont’s gun laws are the “worst in the nation,” which “lead to the illegal trade of firearms” and that they “put children at risk.”
  • The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives Vermont an “F” on their gun control scorecard
  • Vermont gets a few honorable mentions in a Washington Post article on the “6 Craziest State Gun Laws,” pointing out that you can conceal and carry a firearm at age 16 in the State without a license. The State also has no minimum age to own a rifle or shotgun.
  • The Trace (a publication started with funding by “Every Town for Gun Safety”) chided Vermont as a “gun rights paradise,” quoting one gun-rights activist as saying that “Vermont, for over 220 years, has never had permits, has never had registration, and has never had any serious gun control laws”

So Vermont must be a scene right out of Mad Max, right?

Not exactly.

Vermont was the safest State in the nation in 2016, and the second safest in 2017.

And you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled if you want to see any gun violence there.

According to the Vermont Department of Health, the State had only 7 gun homicides a year from 2011-2014. In 2015 the State had 12, but that fell back to 7 in 2016. In a State of 620,000, that’s a rate of 1.12 per 100,000 people in your typical year. Interestingly enough, when reviewing the FBI’s statistics, I found they report that only two gun homicides occurred in Vermont in 2012,  for a firearm homicide rate of 0.3 per 100,000. It’s unclear what the cause of the discrepancy is, but regardless, both are extremely low.

For comparison, gun-controlled Chicago had an average firearm homicide rate of 15.25 per 100,000 people from 2010-2015.

But what about the claims that Vermont’s lax gun laws are fueling gun violence in other States? That’s based off of a 2013 ATF study which found that “adjusting for population, Vermont has the highest rate of guns traced and recovered in other states after being used for criminal activity.” By “highest rate,” they mean an entire 147 guns that left Vermont and were used in crimes across State lines – hardly an epidemic. The “rate” is only high because of Vermont’s low population.

It’s no wonder liberals are quick to criticize Vermont’s gun laws – but never seem to talk about Vermont’s gun violence.

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