As part of our series taking a deep dive into motivating factors when it comes to American’s leaving the US we look at gun crime and expatriation. Is fear of the escalating gun epidemic forcing US citizens to seek safer shores?
In a recent Pivot Podcast, NYC Business professor Scott Galloway describes to his co-host pre-eminent tech journalist Kara Swisher how his life has changed since his move to London. The most significant of these changes is the loss of constant fear for the safety of his children.
“I have noticed two big things about my move to London. The first is the weather f***ing sucks. But that’s another talk show. The second thing is that I didn’t realise, I did not realise what a weight I was carrying on my shoulders every time I pulled up to drop off or pick up my kids at school. Yeah. And when I did it in Florida, I just couldn’t help but have very ugly images pop into my mind. I would literally think about what happens, what do I do if I turn on the TV and I see on CNN a helicopter shot of my kid’s school? Yeah. Because I would know exactly what that meant. It happens a lot. What would I do?”
A similar sentiment was voiced to me by a very wealthy fund manager after the Uvalde primary school massacre. He has young children who were soon going to start going to school.
“I know that statistically my children will probably not be involved in a mass shooting event… However I know with a 100% certainty that they will be taught active shooter drills. My wife and I will worry about whether today is the day, every time they walk out the door. I don’t want that stress for them or us. That is why I am hiring you.”
Gun Crime and Expatriation: A US Gun Epidemic? The statistics…
This sense of dread is not just fuelled by an overhyped media environment. It is statistically real. The latest annual mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) point out that:
“Firearms kill so many American children that they are now the leading cause of mortality under age 19, ending the lives of 5.3 kids in every 100,000 and surpassing even motor vehicle deaths, which are 4.8 per 100,000.”
Further research by the Pew Research Center highlights a disturbing trend. The number of children and teens killed by gunfire in the United States increased 50% between 2019 and 2021.
Concerns for school age children and grandchildren is not the only time that of out of control gun violence raises the fears of Americans. Pew Research goes on to point out:
In 2021, there were 48,830 gun deaths among Americans of all ages – by far the highest yearly total on record and up 23% from the 39,707 recorded in 2019, before the pandemic.
The reality of this crisis was brought vividly to the forefront during the past two weeks. There have been shootings occurring when a teen went to the wrong door… a cheerleader sat in the wrong car… a woman drove into the wrong driveway… and a six year old mistakenly rolled his basketball onto his neighbour’s property. Specific sectors of society (Jewish, Asian, LGBTQIA+ communities and communities of Colour) have even more reason for concern. However as the Nashville tragedy showed, bullets don’t ask your age, religion, sexual orientation or the colour of your skin.
Unfortunately, the reaction of too many politicians is inadequate. They range from throwing their hands up in despair to actually calling for adding more firearms to the mix by arming schoolteachers. Parents and grandparents respond by educating their children on personal safety. They protest, they make financial contributions to gun control groups; and they vote.
However an increasing number of Americans are recognising that this may not be enough. In the face of the existing situation and strength of the NRA and other gun lobbyists, it is best to back up these actions. How do they do this? With a direct and effective plan to take their families out of “the line of fire”.
Where can I take my family? How do I get there?
The first question can be answered by starting with understanding where there is NOT a gun epidemic. Even a cursory search of gun violence and mass shootings shows that there are many potential destinations. Much of this has to do with how other countries reacted when previously faced with these horrific events. These destinations include not only the UK, Europe, New Zealand and Australia but also closer destinations such as Canada.
In looking at the global gun violence map, parents need to research which destinations will provide the type of lifestyle that that will meet the requirements of all family members. This requires looking at issues such as:
- Availability of suitable educational, medical and other infrastructure;
- Ability to preserve wealth and income generation;
- Proximity to family, friends and business colleagues remaining in the US.
Once the list of target countries has been identified, it is then time to answer the second question of “How?”.
The importance of good advice…
Too many Americans naively rely on the information that they find in a Google search. At best this approach will result in information that is out of date. More likely the immigration and citizenship information has been posted by commission driven sales people. They will push countries and products which are either inappropriate; or they will ignore cheaper or faster pathways which do not pay them commissions.
Most damaging is the fact that salespeople ignore the unique financial complications of Americans living abroad. The ignorance surrounding these complications inspired me to co-author a column called “American Exceptionalism”. This explores, not only issues for Americans moving abroad, but also for those who might be developing a strategy to permanently and legally leave the US tax system. Proper advice about these issues can avoid extraordinarily expensive tax mistakes. These will quickly ruin what would otherwise be a successful experience.
So whether taking your family out of the line of fire of America’s rising gun violence epidemic is the only, or one of many factors, motivating the pursuit of an effective Backup Plan, the key is to engage experienced independent advisors. They will help you to develop and execute a plan that fits your family’s unique circumstances and goals.
In closing, it is worth remembering that developing and executing a plan to protect your family’s wellbeing and wealth is possibly the most profound action in the life of you and your loved ones. Make sure you do it right because “Failure to Plan PROPERLY…is planning to Fail”.