No need for angst – Minnesota’s story of survival as a shall issue state

While last week’s Supreme Court decision affecting Roe has received the bulk of the attention, the Court’s decision in NY State Rifle and Pistol Association V. Bruen, Superintendent of New York State Police has created its own share of angst — even among some prominent conservatives such as Washington Post commentator George Will.    

Remain calm.

The effect of this decision is simple – the 9 states that remain “may issue” permit to carry states will join the 41 states that are already “shall issue” permit to carry states. The angst occurring now has fomented 41 other times, and experience has shown it wasn’t necessary.    

Minnesota became a “shall issue” state in 2003 with the adoption of the Minnesota Personal Protection Act (PPA). Since its inception hundreds of thousands of citizens have obtained permits to carry that require renewal after 5 years. As of 2021 there were 387,013 active permits among some 5.7 million state residents. 

Per the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s 2021 Permit to Carry Annual Report , less than 1% of permit holders committed a crime, and of those crimes, less than 2% involved a crime in which a firearm was used in furtherance of the crime.

How about crime in general since the PPA? In the 19 years since becoming a “shall issue” state, Minnesota’s annual violent crime rate has risen above 2003’s rate 8 times and has fallen below 2003’s rate 11 times. One crime category that has consistently fallen over this period is burglary — not much of a stretch to at least draw a conclusion to this correlation. 

The PPA has also had a limited effect on personal safety, as a BCA 10 year report on the PPA identified 5 instances of self-defense reported from 2003-2013. Though rare, these instances in which an armed person defended themselves are not irrelevant.  Neither is someone’s perception of safety.

National debate and studies about the causes of gun violence are prolific. Concluding that more guns or less restrictions equal more gun violence is subjective at best. There are so many studies and conclusions about the effect of legal gun ownership on crime and gun violence that to make definitive statements based on these studies is silly.  If this is an area of interest to you, you may find this article worthwhile.

A great deal of academic research involving the effects of legal gun ownership on gun violence is now being done under the public health umbrella. The conclusions drawn often use qualifiers like “suggests,” or “is likely to,” to establish a tenuous correlation between restrictions or repeal, and gun violence. These same studies often fail to identify significant issues that likely impacted the issue more than the law itself. 

Case in point — this National Library of Medicine study on the effects of background checks and firearm licensing concludes that Missouri’s 2001 repeal of state licensing laws involving gun ownership led to a 47.3% increase in homicides. The study doesn’t mention that nearly the entire increase in percentage occurred in 2014 when Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson Missouri police officer, sparking significant civil unrest and lawlessness described as the “Ferguson Effect.”

The angst many Minnesotan’s had in 2003 proved to be unnecessary. The 9 “may issue” states which will become “shall issue” states as a result of the Court’s decision, will also come to realize it is all “much ado about nothing.”