Urban Exodus

Been widely known that large urban areas are losing population and businesses for a while. From experience, I thought most of that was due to income and property taxes. And, of course, traffic and noise and crime. But the SAF says:

The Census Bureau has reported what amounts to a “domestic migration” from three large cities in three key states, and the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) blames much of this population flight on repressive gun laws.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that, according to the Census Bureau, states losing the most people are New York, California and Illinois.

“This is no mystery,” said SAF founder Alan Gottlieb. “Those states are infamous for their anti-gun attitudes. Countless times have we heard from people who have moved from those states because they wanted to escape the Draconian gun laws.

“The Census Bureau reports that New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles lost the most residents between 2000 and 2004,” Gottlieb continued. “Anti-gun politicians and their restrictive gun laws have made it virtually impossible for average law-abiding citizens to get a concealed pistol license in Los Angeles or New York City. In Chicago, you can’t own an unregistered handgun, and they no longer register handguns.

“Americans prefer to live where they can enjoy freedom and liberty, rather than depend upon an oppressive, disinterested municipal bureaucracy for their safety,” he said

While I agree with his sentiment, I doubt that gun ownership is that important to a lot of people. I could be wrong, of course.

19 Responses to “Urban Exodus”

  1. countertop says:

    I agree with this statement

    Americans prefer to live where they can enjoy freedom and liberty

    To the extent that gun laws are a reflection of those ideals, rather than the actual foundation of peoples decision to move out he might be on to something.

    Its freedom and liberty – from taxes, oppressive regulation, and out of control tort lawsuit abuse – that is really driving the exodus from the northeast, Illinois and California.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I think it’s more than that, but certainly some people are moving because of that. I suspect it just has more to do with the fact that living in those places sucks 🙂 The cost of living is high and these days the real growth areas are in the south and southwest.

    Some of this exodus may not even be that good for the places these people are moving to, A lot of people leaving New York City go to New Jersey, and New Jersey’s gun laws suck almost as bad because of the New York influence. Ask anyone in Vermont or New Hampshire how much they like the people moving up from Massachusetts to escape that leftist paradise only to try to make the places they move to just like it. Hell, I can remember as a kid when the more rural counties around Philadelphia started filling up with suburbanites and suddenly you couldn’t just shoot clays off your back deck, because it upset the neighbors. The public shooting range in my county gets closed, with one of the reasons being “encroaching development”. So I think there’s a good case that a lot of the people fleeing these urban centers are taking their urban attitudes with them.

    Then again I was a suburban kid, so I would defy the generalization I just outlined 😉

  3. SayUncle says:

    So I think theres a good case that a lot of the people fleeing these urban centers are taking their urban attitudes with them.

    Not the case around here. Our neighborhood is apparently where people from Chicago decide to settle in Maryville. I’ve seen no such attitude here. And they seem content to leave ‘urban attitude’ behind.

  4. Rustmeister says:

    Like Countertop said, gun laws are an indication of the larger picture. When politicians start restricting freedoms, gun laws are usually a prime target, but other things come with it. Taxes, welfare programs, the clamoring for rights for illegal immigrants, etc.

    Everything that makes regular folk say “and I’m living here because….”. Once they realize there’s no rational way to complete that statement, they do the math, research and networking, and get their butts out.

    I read recently it’s almost impossible to rent an outbound U-Haul from LA.

  5. Xrlq says:

    So I think there’s a good case that a lot of the people fleeing these urban centers are taking their urban attitudes with them.

    That happens when too many move from the same Point A to the same Point B within too short of a time frame. That’s how California got the way it is. Left to its own devices, it would have ended up as just another western state, low-tax and as pro-gun as any of the states that border it – or the states that border them, or anything else west of the Mississippi except maybe Iowa.

    Speaking only for myself, gun ownership was not the main factor in deciding to move, but it did play a significant role in the decision of where to move to, whether or not to follow up on a particular job lead, etc. If a recruiter from another unfree state had called me about a job similar to the one I have now, I probably would have said thanks but no thanks.

  6. Marc says:

    Gun Rights was the overwhelming majority reason for my leaving California. I had lots of other reasons for leaving Los Angeles but once you’ve made up your mind to move you can’t settle for living still under the dominion of Sacramento.

  7. Manish says:

    I think much of the exodus has more to do with the cost of living, crappy schools, tough to raise a family, tough to get around, etc. and little to do with gun laws. California and New York have both seen a large increase in population as a whole and gun laws are state-wide.

  8. Xrlq says:

    California’s are, New York’s aren’t. New York State has crappy gun laws, but not nearly as crappy as NYC’s.

  9. tgirsch says:

    If gun laws were a motivating factor, then I would expect gun-friendly cities to be losing population at a slower rate than gun-hostile cities like Chicago. I don’t believe that’s the case. Then again, urban flight is not new; it’s a 40-year-old (or more) phenomenon. Cost-of-living, crime, education, etc., all factor in. But I think people are too quick to disregard race (and racism) as a factor. In every mid-to-large city I’ve ever been in (or known people who lived there), there’s this common conception that when the black or hispanic families start moving in, the neighborhood is going downhill and thus it’s time to move out.

    I also think that traffic, however often it’s cited, is overrated as a motivating factor. Most who move to the suburbs have to commute farther to get to work, and thus have to deal with more traffic. And here in Memphis, the traffic is far worse in the Eastern suburbs than it is in the city. A lot of that seems to have to do with poor (or no) urban planning.

    And there’s a cycle that occurs, too: near suburbs grow to the point where they need to raise taxes or skimp on infrastructure, and this precipitates a flight to still-farther suburbs. In some areas (I’m told D.C. is one), the young (childless) and wealthier empty-nesters are starting to re-urbanize, buying up properties in city centers that not long ago had been blighted.

  10. Rustmeister says:

    Racism was one of the main reasons I left Memphis.

    Being in the minority, my son was taunted with racist remarks on an almost daily basis. The teachers/school administrators did nothing about it, so I left.

    Granted, I had planned to move out of Shelby county anyway, once I bought a house, but I moved up the timetable when I saw what was happening with my kid.

  11. tgirsch says:

    Rust:

    Yeah, the city school board is awful.

  12. Xrlq says:

    TGirsch:

    If gun laws were a motivating factor, then I would expect gun-friendly cities to be losing population at a slower rate than gun-hostile cities like Chicago. I don’t believe that’s the case.

    At the risk of agreeing with TGirsch once again, I should point out that this article lists Riverside, CA as being the fastest growing exurb. This is exactly the opposite of what one would expect if gun laws were the reason everyone’s moving out. California’s gun laws are largely uniform, so an L.A. gun owner has little to gain by moving to Riverside, except maybe to upgrade his chances of getting a CCW from “fuhgeddaboudit” all the way up to “probably not, but maybe.” By contrast, moving out of NYC, DC or Chicago can spell the difference between being (or not being) allowed to own a gun at all, and all three cities are within commuting distance of a shall-issue state. Thus, if guns were the motivating factor, one should expect to find significantly more exurban movement out of NYC, Chicago and DC than from L.A. Based on the news article, this does not appear to be the case – though without having the study in front of me, it’s impossible to tell for certain.

    But I think people are too quick to disregard race (and racism) as a factor. In every mid-to-large city I’ve ever been in (or known people who lived there), there’s this common conception that when the black or hispanic families start moving in, the neighborhood is going downhill and thus its time to move out.

    OK, time to go back to disagreeing. The same article quotes Brookings Institute demographer William Frey as saying it’s not just whites who move out, but middle class people generally. My own experience is consistent with this, having recently moved to a largely rural ex-exurb of a medium-sized city: it ain’t white flight, it’s whoever-can-afford-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here flight.

  13. countertop says:

    And theres a cycle that occurs, too: near suburbs grow to the point where they need to raise taxes or skimp on infrastructure, and this precipitates a flight to still-farther suburbs. In some areas (Im told D.C. is one), the young (childless) and wealthier empty-nesters are starting to re-urbanize, buying up properties in city centers that not long ago had been blighted.

    This has indeed happened – of course the fact that most people in DC are single and those that aren’t are in marriages where both spouses work (and usually both are earning over 100k a year – wish I was in one of those) – has also had an impact. The biggest impact I’ve seen however, has been the election of Tony Williams to Mayor. He ran as a Democrat – because thats what you have to do to win – but the Democrat establishment hates him and he is really more of a liberal republican. A Harvard MBA, he has done a great job of bringing some bit of fiscal sanity back to the DC government and attracted a lot of investment in the city. He’s actually turned many areas into nice places to live (but for the schools which he still hasn’t conquered). It will be very interesting to see what trasnpires over the next couple of years since he isn’t running for re-election this year. While Memphis’s own DC Mayor for Life Marion Barry isn’t running again (for once) the fact that one of his cronies is the presumptive favorite at this juncture doesn’t bode well for the city and in fact one of my good friends who happens to be one of the 3 or 4 largest real estate investors in the city (there are basically 3 or 4 greek families and a jewish guy who own the vast vast majority of the city, he is from one of the families) has stopped investing in new development pending the outcome of the election because of this fear.

  14. Devich says:

    Gun laws were not what prompted me to leave California and Illinois. I’ve lived in both places and cost of living was my major issue. But upon moving to Texas, I realized how little I knew about guns, and how taboo that they have become in those states. In Texas, probably 1/2 of my neighborhood has concealed carry licences. And my neighbors are not insane, looney, violent people! Surprise surprise! Since moving to Texas, I think I have a greater respect for guns having actually learned more about them and using them safely, as opposed to pretending I’m not intelligent enough to handle one.

    Recently, in my neighborhood, a schizophrenic man broke into an elderly couple’s house and stabbed the husband. His 70-something year old wife shot the intruder, thus stopping the attack. It was no big deal, here. A woman protecting her house and her husband. But my husband says, in Chicago, people can actually be prosecuted for shooting an intruder. They are supposed to barricade themselves in a bathroom and call the police. (I don’t know anyone who has phones in their bathrooms.)

    Ludicrous. Looking back on it, I’m glad we left Illinois.

  15. beerslurpy says:

    Grew up in NYC and I will never go back. But it isnt about guns. The gun laws do suck in those places, BUT there are far more compelling reasons to leave. Observe the following phenomena:

    1-enormous individual income taxes. Say goodbye to 50-60 percent of your income every year
    2-high cost of living. You cant buy a home, you rent an apartment for 2k+ a month. Everything costs more- food, beer, movie, movie tickets, etc
    3-complex and costly regulations make it tough on local businesses. All those extra costs for individual employees raise salary demands and push people into even higher brackets. Like your employees, you pay more for real estate, more for supplies, more to deal with local government. Operating a business in FL is many times cheaper than operating a NYC or CA business. Businesses arent stupid and will relocate as quickly as the opportunity arises.

    Combine the three above problems and you get less and less jobs and lots of people who need them really badly to keep living there. 2-3k monthly living expenses eats through your savings REALLY fast. Not everyone can get one of these jobs and they eventually leave.

    When I finally left Silicon Valley, I ended up moving across the country to what I then thought was a worse place to live. Once I got here I realized that I was in a lower tax bracket, paying no state tax and saving more money at the end of the month. Once I bought a house I realized how badly I had been getting screwed in CA and I swore never to go back.

    Honestly, I am as big a gun nut as anyone, but the gun thing didnt even become an issue until after I moved here and learned what I had been missing. Nowadays it seems weird to walk around without a gun, but in CA it never would have occurred to me.

    People are bailing because of jobs, plain and simple. The socialists are strangling business and business is leaving.

  16. tgirsch says:

    X:

    The same article quotes Brookings Institute demographer William Frey as saying its not just whites who move out, but middle class people generally.

    This only invalidates my claim if you assume that only white people are racist against non-whites. 🙂

  17. markm says:

    “If gun laws were a motivating factor, then I would expect gun-friendly cities to be losing population at a slower rate than gun-hostile cities like Chicago.” Is there a gun-friendly major city north of the Mason-Dixon line? There are some southern cities that are as gun-hostile as state laws allow, or more (New Orleans), but if I wanted to find an urban center that was reasonably gun friendly, I’d start looking in the south. I just don’t think that’s the main reason that the south has been gaining population at the expense of the north.

    To the extent that repressive gun laws are a sign of over-regulation and nanny government in general, you’re getting closer to the real issue. However, I think most of the people leaving aren’t doing this directly because of over-regulation, but because of economics and the quality of life achievable within their salary. Mostly it’s indirect – a very large part of the increased cost of living in over-regulated areas is the cost of complying with regulations. A house that would cost $100K to build with non-union labor in a county with no zoning might cost $500K to buy in the nanny-state suburbs. Partly that’s the cost of the building site, some part of which is the result of regulations reducing the supply of building sites, and some part of which is simply the result of more people and less land, but you’re probably paying nearly twice as much on the construction itself for taxes, compliance with multiple regulatory agencies, and for even non-union jobs getting most of the union labor rates and work rules.

    I just wish more of the people escaping from the nanny-states understood how much of what they are escaping from is the result of nannyism. Too many of them think that a few more regulations are in order…

  18. markm says:

    I forgot one more factor: crime. That’s a huge quality of life issue. Even if the chances of you or your family actually becoming a crime victim are far lower than the chances of getting killed in a car accident, people tend to become terrified of it and overly restrict their lives. My childhood was spent roaming about a square mile of small town with my friends. Nobody worried as long as we came home for meals, did our homework, and the neighbors didn’t call our parents because we were experimenting with explosives or something. Now, I hear of too many children that never get outside except for adult-supervised activities…

    And of course, when the populations are similar, stricter gun laws seem to result in more crime.

  19. Xrlq says:

    Is there a gun-friendly major city north of the Mason-Dixon line?

    Sure. Phoenix, Las Vegas, Seattle, Detroit, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are all reasonably gun-friendly, not so much by choice as by their respective states’ preemption laws.