Business World

Friday 13 December 2019

The states making the most money from Americans' right to bear arms

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Colm Kelpie

The issue of gun control has always been a contentious issue in the United States, where the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution via the Second Amendment.

Following mass shootings, US President Barack Obama announced tough gun control laws. But ahead of the clampdown, authorities reported a rise in ownership.

The FBI says that it ran more than 2.2 million firearm background checks on potential gun buyers in November, up 24pc over the same period in 2014. Despite the high profile gun-related tragedies, the US remains polarised on gun control.

A poll taken late last year showed that most Americans maintained a favourable view of the National Rifle Association (NRA), a key lobby group, despite the criticism and a Presidential rebuke.

The Gallup poll showed that the NRA was viewed favourably by 58pc of Americans, while a separate poll that same week showed that 55pc of Americans prefer tighter regulations on gun sales, something the NRA generally opposes. Pro-gun groups say increased background checks for buyers could infringe on Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.

But the gun industry is also big money. Reports recently stated that the NRA's annual revenue doubled in the decade to 2013, rising to $384m.

Shares of gun manufacturers soared early last month after the President unveiled his gun control measures, which include the requirement for more sellers to get licences and more buyers to undergo background checks. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the industry, firearms and ammunitions contributed a total of nearly $43bn to the US economy in 2014.

That accounts for more than 263,000 jobs that paid $13.7bn in total wages. Now finance website Wallethub has looked at the American states that are most dependent and intertwined with the gun industry, be it for jobs, gun ownership or taxes paid.

"To determine which states depend most on the arms and ammunitions industry both directly for jobs and political contributions and indirectly through firearm ownership, WalletHub's analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across eight key metrics," WalletHub said.

These include the number of firearms industry jobs per 10,000 residents; the average wages and benefits in the industry; gun sales per 1,000 people; ownership and gun control contributions to congressional members. Idaho topped the list of US states that are most dependent on the gun industry. It was followed by Alaska, Montana, South Dakota and Arkansas. The least dependent include Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey, New York and Maryland.

Gun ownership is highest in Alaska, where the rate is 12 times greater than in Delaware, where it is lowest. The number of jobs per capita is highest in New Hampshire, which the WalletHub researchers claim is seven times greater than in the District of Columbia, where it is lowest.

The average wages and benefits in the firearms industry is highest in the District of Columbia.

The total taxes paid by the industry per capita is highest in Montana, which is six times greater than in Delaware, where it is lowest. WalletHub also pointed out the losses associated with the industry, beyond simply the human cost. Liberal magazine 'Mother Jones' estimated last year that the annual economic toll of US gun violence is $229bn, or the equivalent of $700 for every American.

Irish Independent

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