PATCHWORK NATION -- March 2, 2010 at 6:00 PM EDT
Gun Rights Resonate Differently Across the U.S.
If, as some suspect, the Supreme Court rules Americans Second Amendment rights take precedence over state and local laws, some will cheer and some will jeer, but the actual impact in different communities will be quite different.
The spread of gun stores around the country is far from even. Some counties are swimming in gun dealers. In others, you will have a long drive ahead if you want a purchase your own bit of personal protection. But using Patchwork Nation's community type breakdowns we can get a quick read on the places that may be most anxiously awaiting the court's ruling.
If you are looking at sheer number of gun shops, the nation's largely exurban "Boom Town" counties may see the biggest rise in gun sales. There are more than 2,200 gun stores in the nation's "Boom Towns" - that's about 4.5 stores per county. And that may stand to reason. Those places are a mix of growing density and still open space and they tend to be somewhat politically conservative.
The most populous community type in Patchwork Nation, the "Monied Burbs," has about 1,600 shops in about 287 counties - that's 5.6 gun stores per county.
And the most densely populated community type in Patchwork Nation, the big city "Industrial Metropolis" counties have more than 500 gun stores, but that's more than 13 per county.
But remember, more people mean more of most every kind of store. The better read gun interest probably comes by looking at the number of gun stores per capita - and when you look a the numbers that way, the break down might be seen as a bit more predictable.
The most conservative community types have the most gun stores, by far. Rural agricultural "Tractor Country" counties have 10 gun stores for every 100,000 people. The "Mormon Outposts" out West have more than seven gun stores per 100,000. And the socially conservative "Evangelical Epicenter" counties have more than five per 100,000 people.
The case brought before the Supreme Court came from a challenge to a Chicago law that banned handguns and President Obama himself has said of guns laws: "I know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne."
If the court decides that the Second Amendment overrules state and local gun laws and flattens out those local differences, the question is whether the number of gun shops in those locales will change. In other words, is the number of gun stores in big cities and more populated areas a function of law or cultural preference - or are the two linked.
If the court rules against state and local laws, comparing this breakdown of gun store locations to a new breakdown a year or two from now may give us a better answer.
*Dante Chinni is the project director for Patchwork Nation.