For some reason, gun control advocates and their media mouthpieces like to focus on the source of guns used in crime. The ATF’s Gunwalker scandal is but the most evil manifestation of the misguided notion that stopping criminal access to firearms will stop (or at least limit) gun crime. Truth be told, that “access of evil” genie left the bottle a long time ago (sometime after America’s founding fathers enshrined the right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution, before America’s gun population topped 200 million). Try telling that to the self-righteous scribes calling for a legislative solution to firearms fatalities. That’s a message they want to hear about as much as Charlie Sheen wants to hear that he’s been sentenced to a monastery. Here’s a typically misleading passage from Tammerlin Drummond at mercurynews.com . . .
Gangs traffic in firearms. Other criminal networks purchase guns in places such as Arizona and Nevada, which have lax gun control laws, then bring them into California and sell them here. Last year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives busted a firearms-trafficking ring that was shipping firearms from Georgia to the Bay Area. They bought them from two gun shows and 12 federally licensed firearms dealers using straw purchasers.
Some guns used in crimes were stolen in home burglaries.
Many crime guns come from federally licensed dealers. The initial sale may have been legal. But there is nothing to stop that same weapon from later being illegally sold on the secondary market.
The legal/illegal market is not as black and white as gun advocates would like you to believe.
We’ll never be able to restrict the flow of guns until we can muster the political will to stand up to the National Rifle Association’s craziness and tighten gun and ammunition control laws.
See how that works? Anecdotes are presented as data points leading to a political call to action (against the usual suspect)—without any kind of statistical analysis or references.
Doing my best John Lott impression, I emailed Ms. Drummond info on crime gun sources, including the famous Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991. The pie chart on page 19 indicates that black market sales and theft account for the lion’s share (37 percent) of guns used in crimes.
To her credit, Ms. Drummond does say that “Some guns used in crimes were stolen in home burglaries.” It’s the “some” (nine percent in the inmate study) that demands further investigation. Theft could well be the original source for the vast majority of all guns used in crime.
firearmsid.com reports that . . .
Studies of adult and juvenile offenders that the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services conducted in 1992 and 1993 found that 15% of the adult offenders and 19% of the juvenile offenders had stolen guns; 16% of the adults and 24% of the juveniles had kept a stolen gun; and 20% of the adults and 30% of the juveniles had sold or traded a stolen gun.
If we’re allowed to use anecdotal evidence (fair’s fair), then how about this from (of all places) Plattsburgh New York’s pressrepublican.com:
According to the Troop B State Police Gun Investigation Unit, 102 guns were reported missing in 2010 between Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence and Hamilton counties . . .
Police said a majority of the 102 missing guns were taken from private residences during the summer and falls months, while a small number of others were taken from vehicles during hunting season.
Note: this article fails to mention the fact that a significant percentage of gun owners never report their stolen gun or guns to the police. The number of stolen guns could easily be double.
OK, so, we know that theft is a large perhaps even the largest part of the “Iron River” of guns flowing to criminals. This is where irresponsible gun owners come in . . .
While police are pleased by the declining numbers, Keniston said, authorities remained concerned by a seemingly widespread lack of proper documentation regarding private guns.
“We’re still trying to encourage people to inventory their collection so they can provide us with that data if and when they’re reported stolen,” said Keniston, who heads the Troop B gun unit.
He hopes more gun owners will document and maintain accurate and reliable inventory of their firearms, particularly serial numbers, makes, models and calibers.
Fewer than 40 percent of the long guns reported stolen in 2010 included accurate descriptions, Keniston said, which can seriously hamper police efforts to track them down and return them once they’re recovered.
And then there’s the whole lock ’em if you got ’em side of the equation.
Keniston also strongly encouraged gun owners to always keep weapons locked in gun safes and refrain from letting others know the extent of their collection.
In one instance, Keniston recalled, a gun owner posted pictures of his handguns online and was soon targeted by burglars, who ransacked his home and gun collection.
“That’s one way people can really put themselves out there as a target and not even realize it.”
Just as a responsible journalist has an obligation to trade in facts rather than innuendo, a responsible gun owner has an obligation to maintain a careful record of his or her firearms, store them in a proper safe and maintain security awareness. Rather than make it easy for the weapons to slip into criminals’ hands.