Sunday, January 13, 2019

Official US DOJ Report Devastates Gun Control Arguments

Criminals Most Common Source Of Guns Is Black Market - Gun Shows Account For Only 0.8% Of Total

The US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics has released the results of an extensive study of the sources of guns owned or possessed by criminals.  There study can be downloaded HERE.  The study, that involved extensive interviews with over 245,000 inmates of federal and state prisons, who possessed or used a firearm at the time of their crime, confirms what gun rights advocates have been saying for years: Criminals can easily obtain firearms via illegal means.

What follows is a list of the various sources.

The most common source was the black market, accounting for 43.2% of firearms owned at the time the prisoner committed their crime.  This confirms exactly what gun right advocates have said for decades - if criminals want firearms, a black market will develop to meet that demand.  This has been the case in many nations, including Brazil, that soon will end its highly restrictive gun laws.  Jamaica is yet another example, as is Mexico.

The fact that so many guns are already being sold on the black market strongly suggests that if legal gun sales were stopped tomorrow, and guns were outlawed, criminals - or anyone who wanted a gun badly enough to break the law - would simply turn to the black market.  In addition to domestic firearms, just as with drugs, guns would be smuggled in from other nations.

The next source for criminal's firearms were "straw purchases", accounting for up to 15.4% of the total.  Unfortunately, those who did the study did not specifically ask about straw purchases (where someone with a clean record lies in order to buy a gun for a criminal).  That said, they did have categories for "Gift/purchased for prisoner" (10.8%) and "Brought by someone else" (4.6%) - both of these would likely constitute straw purchases.  Such purchases are a felony, but those convicted almost never get prison time.

Next we come to other illegal sources at 27.8%  Obtained from family or friend (purchased, rented or borrowed) constitute was the most common source at 14.5%.  Theft directly by prisoner came in at 6.4%  Found at location of crime/victim - another form of theft registered at 6.9%

Finally, we come to legal channels at 10.3%.  That's right, only about 1 in 10 firearms owned by criminals is obtained directly through legal channels.  Remember, that while these channels are legal, the purchase likely was not.  The bulk of these purchases (7.5% of the total or 3/4 of the legal channels total)  were from licensed dealers - meaning that they were either purchased prior to any felony convictions, of more likely, the just decided to try, knowing that their chances of prosecution are tiny.  The next most common was pawn shops (1.6%) - which if the buy or sell guns must be licensed and conduct background checks just like other dealers.  This means that they had to pass a background check here too.  This was followed by gun shows at 0.8% (most sellers at gun shows are dealers and must also do checks - but some of these were surely private sales).  The last category in this total is "flea markets" where all the sales are private. 

Other (did not fit any category) totaled 5.9%

Note: Because some criminals had guns from multiple sources, the total is somewhat higher than 100%.

How This Study Devastates The Case For More Gun Control

This study invalidates the case for more gun control is by showing that most firearms owned by criminals are obtained illegally - and that nearly half the time, they come from an already established black market.  This presents two huge problems for gun control advocates.

First, gun control efforts, by definition, seek to limit the legal market.  This severely limits the potential effectiveness of any gun control effort.  Consider that if all the firearms purchased by criminals directly though legal channels could be eliminated - a practical impossibility - 90% of crime guns would be missed.  Additionally, should this source somehow be completely eliminated (again, an impossibility) criminals would simply turn to one of the other sources.  This alone proves that gun control laws simply cannot accomplish what their advocates promise.

Second, this report highlights just how absurd typical gun control  measures are - as well as how those advocating for them ignore the facts.  Consider how many battles have been fought over gun shows.  Again and again, studies like this one have established that gun shows simply are not a major source of crime guns - yet gun control advocates continue to tell people that they are and work hard to shut them down.

Consider also the number one priority of gun control advocates, what they falsely call closing the "gun show loophole".  What they really want is to require background checks on all private sales or transfers.  Again, they focus upon a tiny silver of the 10% of criminal's firearms that are obtained through legal channels (it appears that private sales are responsible for under 2% of criminal's guns).  It is impossible to have any significant impact by focusing upon a tiny silver of the problem.

Third, this study shows where we should focus any efforts to prevent criminals from getting guns.  They are, in order of priority:

1) Shutting down illegal dealers.  We are not talking about legal dealers who mess up some paperwork, we are talking about people who intentionally sell to prohibited persons, such as felons.

2) Prosecuting straw purchasers, and sending them to prison.  Not only are people who illegally buy guns for prohibited persons frequently not prosecuted, when they are, they do usually do not do prison time.  If our laws are to have any positive effect, this must change.

3) Fix the broken background check database.  This will have the least impact, but it still should be done.

These three measures will not stop criminals from getting guns,  Experience shows that nothing will do that.  However, they have much great potential than any of the measures pushed by gun control groups.

I have no illusion that gun control advocates will change goals in light of this report.  Their efforts are not aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, they are aimed at disarming the law abiding.  My hope is that those who read this will come to understand their real agenda.

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