MA Gun Crime Due to Surrounding States’ Lax Laws. Or Not.

Just down from Maine? (courtesy boston-discovery-guide.com)

Gun-related crimes on the rise in Massachusetts, proclaims the headline at the Boston Globe, factually enough. And then the strap-line: Firearms flowing across borders. In other words, firearms-related crime is on the rise in Massachusetts because “The quality of your gun-licensing laws is only as good as those surrounding you.” Ayup. Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox pins the blame for the Bay State’s gun-related crime on adjacent states’ firearms freedom. I mean lax gun laws. Interesting that the article starts with the blame shifters and then reveals the rate of rising gun crime. Just for S&Gs, let’s do it their way . . .

Many guns found in Massachusetts travel only a short distance: 133 crime guns were traced to New Hampshire in 2011, and 79 to Maine, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Those states alone accounted for nearly one-third of the 669 crime guns traced to states outside of Massachusetts.

New Hampshire and Maine, unlike Massachusetts, do not require a permit or license to buy a gun, although weapons bought at federally licensed gun shops are subjected to a background check.

“If you’re a kid in New Bedford and you had a beef with somebody, what do you do? You drive three hours to Maine to buy a gun,” said New Bedford Mayor Jonathan Mitchell, a former federal prosecutor in Boston, who appeared with Menino and other Massachusetts mayors last week to press for stricter gun laws.

If Maine had tougher gun laws, the bad guys would just give up and forget about the whole thing, I suppose. Lest we forget, Maine gun dealers don’t have to run buyers through a NICS background check. Oh wait, they do. And non-dealer firearms sales to felons are legal in Maine. Oh wait. They aren’t.

And God knows there aren’t any illegal guns already in Massachusetts. Oh wait. There are. In fact, here’s a handy little chart detailing the origin of guns used for Massachusetts firearms-related crimes (according to the Globe).

I wonder why NONE of the guns listed are from Massachusetts. What are the odds?

Anyway, 212 out of 366 guns in the survey come from adjacent states: New Hampshire and Maine (RI doesn’t get a look in). But it’s also true that almost half—154 of the 366 guns in the survey—came from way the heck out of state.

Thirty-eight guns (more than 10 percent) migrated from California (with some help, presumably). Why that’s one of the only states with tougher (i.e. more unconstitutional) gun control laws than Massachusetts!

And while we’re talking about stats, let’s see how the civilian disarmament movement’s doing in Massachusetts, reducing crime-wise:

In 2011, Massachusetts recorded 122 murders committed with firearms, a striking increase from the 65 in 1998, said Fox, the Northeastern professor. Nationwide, such murders increased only 3 percent from 1999 to 2010, the CDC says.

There were increases in other crimes involving guns in Massachusetts, too. From 1998 to 2011, aggravated assaults with guns rose 26.7 percent. Robberies with firearms increased 20.7 percent during that period, according to an FBI analysis conducted for the Globe.

The rise in Massachusetts shootings extends beyond crime. All gunshot injuries not resulting in death, including accidents but excluding suicide attempts, increased 20 percent from 2001 to 2011, according to the state Department of Public Health. Across the country, the rise was 18 percent, the CDC reported.

To be fair, the Globe checks in with Massachusetts gun rights advocates, who deride the “it’s not working so we need to do more of it” mindset. It’s odd that no one mentions the fact that gun rights are not dependent on any sort of crime calculus. But there it is. The article ends with this little afactual gem.

Gun-control advocates scoff at the notion that rising gun violence can be attributed to the 1998 laws. Instead, they suggest, the problem is linked to large cuts in police budgets, recession-related poverty, and the continuing flow of guns from out of state. “Since 2000, law enforcement funding has been cut by billions across the nation,” said John Rosenthal, founder and chairman of Stop Handgun Violence, an advocacy group based in Newton.

Yes, police budgets have been cut, but it’s worth noting that police budgets have been ballooning for decades. Click here for a list of how much government spends per resident per year on police throughout Massachusetts. Not taxpayers. Residents.

How much of that money goes to police pensions? Dunno. But I do know that Massachusetts gun owners’ Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms is about to get hammered. Again. Still.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

39 Responses to MA Gun Crime Due to Surrounding States’ Lax Laws. Or Not.

  1. avatarWilliam says:

    Gun control gives me a headache. Gun CONTROLLERS really give me a headache. OW.

  2. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    This fools nuts because Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, COMMIENECTICUT, and even little ole Rhody (The second most dangerous state in NE) are all a much safer place to live than the “PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF MA”. No one should be surprised by this fact because that’s what happens when you live in a repressed nanny state that insists on running your entire life. I guess the drugs and slums have nothing to do with the sad condition of this state.

    • avatarJoshinGA says:

      I saw an article on a decidely leftist site that I sometimes frequent, which finally brought up the link between poverty and gun crime. http://www.buzzfeed.com/annanorth/how-to-cut-gun-violence-with-no-new-gun-laws

      • avatarC says:

        Great read

      • avatarpat says:

        Shhhh. Dont give the facts. Just say its evil whities fault and apologize. Saves time.

      • avatarChaz says:

        That article drew from this Martin Prosperity Institute study which analyzed gun death factors at the state level.
        It’s interesting but leaves some questions about its data.

        The study noted that immigration doesn’t particularly correlate with gun deaths. When considering immigration data by state, do the numbers include any estimate for undocumented aliens i.e. do they fail to include a sub-population potentially containing more criminals?

        The study notes that trigger locks correlate negatively with gun deaths. But how does that factor correlate with non-poverty? It could be that it is the less violent non-poverty states that have the trigger lock laws but it’s the non-poverty factor that actually makes the difference.

        My non-PC conclusion is that the ‘nanny state’ is failing especially to protect is poor population. Therefore that population especially needs to be able to protect itself.

  3. avatarflboots says:

    Just like socialist, blame everything but the bad guys doing the crime. Hey Gov. how about the Mafia in Boston. Due they count in crimes?

  4. avatarLance says:

    Find it funny liberal retards say gun control isnt working so we need more of it. Shows the dead head fascist mindset of the liberal New England mind.

  5. avatarSteve says:

    To paraphrase Stefan Molyneux, the reason gun crimes go up when guns are restricted or banned, is that by disarming the average citizen, a gun becomes an even more effective tool for the criminal. And since you cannot eliminate all guns, criminals will go to whatever lengths necessary to obtain them as they become a more and more effective tool for crime.

  6. avatarMark N. says:

    I’ve never understood the contention that crime guns come from out of state due to lax gun laws elsewhere. I wish I could go to another state to buy a handgun, particularly a number that are “off roster” here in California. If I can’t do it, how can anyone else? Unless they are buying them illegally or stealing them…in which case that other state’s gun laws are entirely irrelvant, right. Don’t they teach logic in schools any more? Or has that become irrelevant too?

  7. avatarflboots says:

    Lets blame everything but the BG.

  8. avatarStan says:

    Ahhh, yes…the “second hand smoke” argument. It works almost as well as the “its for the children” argument.

  9. avatarJumbie says:

    What’s the gun crime rate like in New Hampshire and Maine where all those evil guns are free to jump into people’s hands?

    If crime isn’t up by the same amount as MA, then I’d say there’s some problems with the idea that lax gun laws elsewhere are feeding MA crime.

  10. avatarTex74 says:

    Common sense and facts have no place when you’re driving an agenda!

  11. avatarRalph says:

    Somebody should inform Criminologist James Alan Fox (WTF is a criminologist anyway?) that crossing state lines to purchase a handgun without having it transferred from the out-of-state FFL to an in-state FFL is already a Federal felony.

    And if the “crime guns” are rifles, nobody in the Commonwealth over 18 needs to cross state lines to buy one. MA is a “shall issue” state for traditional rifles and shotguns, and the age to get a rifle-only FOID is 18.

    The guy’s a lying douchebag.

    • avatarRopingdown says:

      What’s the ‘kid’ gonna do, drive to Maine to buy a gun manufactured in…Massachusetts? The entire argument is like “France must stop making wine, because the Brits are binge drinking four nights a week.”

      • avatarRalph says:

        If it’s true that the Limeys are binging four nights a week, I need to take me a little vay-cay in Brittania.

        • avatarRopingdown says:

          Or come to southern Spain. The Brits, when they come, crank it up to seven nights a week. It’s apparently a matter of pride to keep up with the Russians.

    • avatarJMS says:

      No kidding. The guy is Mayor and a former Federal prosecutor; he damn sure knows that a MA resident cannot go to another state and purchase a handgun. Federal law is already such that you can ONLY buy a handgun in your state of residence, and he definitely knows this.

      OR… he’s implying that these criminals go buy the guns illegally, which further drives home the point that criminals don’t follow the dang laws in the first place, and no matter what you do for background checks it’s just not going to affect them! Restricting the law-abiding to the point where they can’t leave their house without a helmet and a government custodian still won’t stop criminals from doing what they do.

  12. avatarFlintLock says:

    Being originally from one of the big states that you can’t hardly drive across in a day, I suspect a lot of this is just because those states up there in New England are, you know, really small…..

    • avatarScott D. says:

      You can drive from Kittery, ME, through NH, and into Mass. in about a half an hour. And that is with a stop to pay the toll in Hampton, NH plus a stop off at the NH State Liquor Store, which is conveniently located on the Interstate (don’t drink and drive kids). Which makes it fun when you ride a motorcycle because you have to wear your helmet, then you can take it off, and then it has to go back on again. The gun laws are just as frustrating.

  13. avatarensitu says:

    It’s Organised Crime that brings them in, but to stop that the Pols would have to confront those who put them in office

  14. avatarDaniel Silverman says:

    Oh yeah sure blame the other guy!

  15. avatarChuckN says:

    I might be able to shed some more light on the issue of getting
    firearms in Maine. As RF has stated Maine dealers are bound
    by law to run a NICS check. Likewise if a private party is caught
    selling to a felon they are in violation of the law. While Maine
    does not require residency or any other permit to purchase a
    firearm many dealers form their own limitations. For many
    dealers a buyer from from out of state throws up red flags.
    Mass. receives a large amount of derision, particularly in rural
    Maine. A few dealers either refuse or dissuade buyers from
    Mass. partly to protect themselves from the cesspool of the
    Mass. legal system and partly just to spite the state in general.
    Several private FFLs I know also add on a language
    requirement, if one doesn’t have a Maine accent, no sale.

    One thing that is not mentioned by the Globe is how many of
    those firearms are stolen. Both Maine and New Hampshire
    have large areas of wilderness with thousands if not tens of
    thousands of camps. Dozens are broken into every year
    (reported anyway). Owners may not be back for years and may
    not know of any burglary to report. A number of these camps
    belong to people from out of state who may leave firearms
    simply because their own state is antagonistic toward gun
    owners. The irony is that because certain states have such crazy
    laws regarding gun ownership, legit owners leave firearms that
    could be stolen and taken to their state for use in crimes.

  16. Common sense would ask why those “neighboring, pro-gun” states don’t have an increasing rate of murder or violence comparible to the “victim” states or cities like Chicago??

  17. avatarBdk NH says:

    The article mentions 669 firearms were from out of state vs 366 as mentioned In this post??? I would bet that the vast majority of the 133 guns traced to NH were stolen by the stream of criminals out of Mass that regularly rob homes and commit crimes across Southern NH. A disproportionately large percentage of the serious crime committed in NH is by the MA criminal element. Furthermore, in 2010 NH was ranked #1 as the most safe state in the US from a violent crime standpoint. MA was 21st. I really think it unwise and foolhardy for MA to blame any of it’s crime problems on it’s mostly free neighbor to the North.

  18. avatarBig C says:

    I would be interested to know what the rate of crimes committed in Maine, New Hampshire and other surrounding states are caused by guns from Massachusetts. Without that information there is no way of knowing if the guns just moved because people happened to move or if there is actually a flow of guns from ‘lax’ states to strict states.

    Also, as mentioned above, why is it that its only the states with strict gun laws that seem to be seeing an increase in crime due to the lax laws in the surrounding states? If it really is a problem of gun availability why don’t Maine and NH have soaring gun crime rates? I don’t expect to see a coherent answer to those questions in the Boston Globe anytime soon.

  19. avatarJim Barrett says:

    A couple of facts they convinently overlook: first of all, you can cross state lines to buy a long gun, but not a handgun. I wonder how many of those gun crimes were committed with an out of state long gun. My guess is not many. Secondly, they don’t say how the out of state guns got nto the state. My guess is that most of them came with people moving into MA from other states. As I understand it, you don’t have to register any gunsvthat cme with you when you move into the state, so MA has no idea you have them. Finally, it’s possible that some of the out of state guns were stolen. By omitting these details and facts, you can craft a very different story than you would get from the truth.

    • avatarRalph says:

      you don’t have to register any gunsvthat cme with you when you move into the state

      Well, you do — but not many people actually register their imported firearms, and I’m not aware of any prosecutions for failure to do so.

  20. avatarRopingdown says:

    Isn’t Massachusetts the state that had a gang boss so bad, the FBI had to let their informant kill an extra twenty people “for free” just to keep their hand in the game? Rather than worry about guns coming in from New Hampshire, the surrounding states should restrict felons from moving out of Massachusetts. Much more rational.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Ah, Whitey Bulger and his ally, Steve “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Those were the good old days, when the head of the Winter Hill mob and the top fixer in the MA legislature were brothers. Not brothers in arms. Actual brothers. With the same mom and dad and everything.

      And you though that Rhode Island was corrupt. Uh, actually, it is.

  21. avatartdiinva says:

    The political class does not want to admit their policies are failures or take responsibilty for the consequences will always seek to put the blame on others. Why has gun control failed? Why it must be because the other jurisdictions have lax laws!

    To hear Rahm tell it the gangs get guns in the suburbs but you have to have a valid FOID to buy guns in Illinois. They get them in Indiana and Michigan except you can’t buy a handgun out of state.

    Bloomberg always blames Virginia for NYC gun crime. What I don’t understand is why the bad guys just don’t move down here. It would be so much easier than tramping back and forth between New York and Richmond. Maybe NYC gangstas are just too sophisticated for us yokels down here.

  22. avatarSixpack70 says:

    I highly doubt some kid from Bedford would drive three hours to go buy a gun in Maine. This article sucks!

  23. avatarRandy Drescher says:

    So, if we want to stop crime in California we take guns in Maine? OK, just so I know, Randy

  24. avatarDennis says:

    As a MA resident, I am saying enough. My wife, children, and I are packing up am moving elsewhere. Heading south where there is a little common sense left.

    • avatarSixpack70 says:

      I’m leaving in four months. I like my two years here, but I don’t. Like the idea of becoming a felon overnight by a stupid misguided law. Also if you Want to see where some of the real problems are, the Springfield areas grad rate hovers around 59%. Last time I checked, a 59 is an F!

  25. avatarracer88 says:

    Wait a sec…. To my knowledge, I cannot buy any gun in any state in which I am not a resident. For me to buy a gun where I’m not a resident, they have to ship it to an FFL in my state. RIGHT? Or am I mistaken? I know in Florida, to buy a gun here, you MUST be a state resident (show drivers license). If not, then the gun has to be transferred via an FFL in your home state. Is that not true for ALL states?

    Please correct me, if I’m wrong.

  26. avatarBHirsh says:

    I may be wrong, but I believe that the requirement of a permit to BUY a gun will eventually fall to strict scrutiny. You can’t keep arms you can’t acquire, ergo requiring government permission for acquiring a gun offends the right to keep arms.

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