Puerto Rico just radically changed their gun laws. Before we get into the details, it’s worth pointing out that the territory is excellent for a case study. As a territory, Puerto Rico can govern substantially differently from any state in America.
But, since they’re still under the auspices of the Constitution and the federal government, they can’t be as different as a whole other country is.
They sit somewhere in-between those zones, and it allows us to use Puerto Rico to see what happens in America when politicians try something too radical for any state.
The Old Way
For more than 40 years, Puerto Rico has sustained the most severe gun control in the United States. To help you understand just how draconian Puerto Rican laws have been, in 2016, there were about 6.6 firearms for every 100 people.
Compare those numbers to gun ownership rates in the U.S. In every state in the union, there are more guns than people. In fact, New York has the lowest per-capita gun ownership of any state at 535 guns per 100 people.
So, it’s considerably harder to keep and bear arms in the territory than any state. How has that done for violent crime on the island? In every violent crime statistic, Puerto Rico fairs far worse than any state. The murder rate in the territory was about 19 per 100,000 in 2016. The national average was 5.35 per 100,000. With one-fifth as many guns as any state, Puerto Rico has four times the murder rate. That seems like a pretty strong case against gun control.
The New Plan
Well, the people of Puerto Rico have noticed, and they’ve elected politicians who promised to retract the gun control laws. The new plan isn’t perfect, but it’s a major leap towards freedom.
Before, you had to get a license from the government to be allowed to purchase and own a firearm. Actually carrying the firearm on your person was pretty much always illegal (exceptions for carry permits were more rare in Puerto Rico than California).
Act No. 168 was just signed into law. It keeps the permit in place, but it dramatically changes the process and function. Puerto Rico is now officially a will-issue territory. As long as you aren’t a convicted felon, you will get a permit to purchase and own your firearm. There are a few specific additional restrictions, but they will rarely apply.
Just as important, the license to purchase now doubles as a concealed carry license. Puerto Rico doesn’t support open carry, but now, every resident who can buy a gun can also carry it concealed. That makes Puerto Rico one of the most gun-friendly regions in the country.
Two other changes are worth noting. Under the old rules, the license cost around $1500. It was out of reach for most citizens. Now, it will cost $200 to get the permit and $100 to renew it every three years. Lastly, the minimum age to purchase has been raised to 21.
The strongest gun laws didn’t help. Now, we have a real chance to see if a little freedom can lower crime in Puerto Rico. We’ll all have to keep a sharp eye on the territory.
Since you can’t trust the mainstream media, here’s the trick. If you don’t hear about crime in Puerto Rico, it probably means the rates are dropping fast. The media would love to use the territory as proof that gun control is the only way to stop crime. If they don’t get what they want, you can expect to hear crickets.