Why Does Wyoming’s Love of Guns NOT Equal Mass Shootings? (Opinion)
The United States is in the midst of a Mass Shooting epidemic! Since 2013, the US has seen an increase in Mass Shootings (involving 4 or more people) and 2017 is on pace to eclipse last year's mark of 477 Mass Shootings within the US according to MassShootingTracker.org.
According to the published data available regarding Mass Shootings, there are 5 states that have regularly recorded the fewest Mass Shootings in the US on an annual basis - Hawaii, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Wyoming is the state with the smallest population in the US and many experts believe that the reason the Cowboy state hasn't suffered a mass shooting is pure 'Coincidence'. Their reasoning is that smaller populations and more rural lifestyle equals fewer opportunities on average.
Of the 5 states mentioned, Hawaii is the only state with restrictive gun laws. The Aloha state requires gun owners to be licensed and guns are registered. They have a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines, restrict open carry of weapons and require prevention measures of access to firearms by children.
Wyoming received a grade of "F" from the Law Centre to Prevent Gun Violence, an advocacy group based in San Francisco. The reason for the failing grade is mainly due to the fact that Wyoming does not regulate the transfer of possession of machine guns and no state permit is required to purchase a rifle, shotgun or handgun.
While there is a lack of Mass Shootings, unfortunately there is however plenty of gun violence within the Cowboy state. In fact Wyoming consistently ranks in the top 10 for gun violence per capita and the sad reality is that the gun violence within our borders is related to our high number of suicides per capita. Though we have been spared a large numbers of mass shootings, Wyoming definitely has a suicide problem! And it was shocking to learn that almost 4 out of every 5 gun related deaths annually in our state are the result of suicides that involve the use of a firearm.
The most recent "Mass Shooting" incident (and only incident we could find within the last five years) within Wyoming's borders (involving 4 or more people) happened almost a year ago in September of 2016. That was when a 77 yr old man shot three people, killing one, before killing himself at an senior living apartment complex in Cheyenne.
So why has Wyoming been spared the 'Mass Shootings' seen in almost every other state? Is it because here in Wyoming we are the most heavily armed state in the union (195 guns per 1000 people on average), with three times more guns on average than the next closet state? Maybe it's because there are fewer of us and we don't have the same dense populations, crime rates or gang violence that are seen in other states? Maybe it's exactly what the 'experts' say and we're just lucky or it's a 'Coincidence'?
There may not be one real answer.
But as I'm writing this, I'd like to believe that here in Wyoming we care about one another more than other states. We look out for our neighbors and are here to help when a family or individual are in need. Most of us love the Wyoming way of life and follow the Cowboy code of ethics. But I am glad we've been spared the Mass Shootings seen elsewhere and I love living in Wyoming.
Now if only we would all came together to help and support those contemplating suicide among us! If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts you can Click Here for information or support or call - 1 (800) 273-TALK (8255).