The ATF swooped into my hometown of St. Louis and over a four-month period, they arrested over 200 people, filed charges against 159 of them and seized 267 firearms, as reported by the stltoday.com. The Feds, working along with MY local constables set up fake storefronts where undercover law enforcement, among other things, got busy “arranging drug and illegal gun transactions and dangling armed robbery opportunities in front of convicted felons.” I lack the legal knowledge to know if this constitutes entrapment or not, but that’s the least controversial aspect of this. Further along on the story we learn . . .

Those arrested in the sting had collectively been arrested 2,300 times before

and

Of those charged, 78 percent were already convicted felons, officials said, who had amassed more than 500 previous convictions between them. A little quick math tells me that 124 of these miscreants had been convicted of a felony an average of four times each.

Read that again, ye mighty, and despair.

Further, among the 200, you have to have 2300 arrests to get 500 convictions? That’s 4.6 arrests per conviction. The mind boggles at the thundering ineffectiveness of our criminal justice system.

Remember this the next time some gun-grabber demands more gun laws. Gun laws are only worth the people enforcing them, and that’s not just cops, judges and prosecutors. It also means jurors. Running a few numbers on a “surge” in my beloved Gateway City tells me the problem is not a dearth of laws, nor not enough cops on the street. It’s the lack of locking up assholes and leaving them there so they are no longer a menace to society.

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48 Responses to The Unbearable Lightness Of Gun Laws

  1. Good thing they’re diverting resources to arresting people for really bad things, like marijuana, cocaine and MDMA.

    Violent crime be damned, we have stoners to catch! How else are they going to justify a Bearcat armored vehicle in every small town in America?

  2. Good information but California seems to beg to differ, in that criminals are being released from prisons because the state can’t afford incarceration costs. Is this yin and yang ‘law enforcement’?

    • I met a traveller from an American land
      Who said: Two vast and beanpole legs of stone
      Stand in the White House. Near them, on the floor,
      Half sunk, a shattered Constitution lies; his frown,
      And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
      Tell that the flyover well those passions read
      Which yet survive, stamped out these lifeless things.
      The hand that banned them and the pen that signed:
      And on the Constitution these words appear:
      “My name is Obamandias, King of Kings:
      Look on my executive orders, ye Shooters, and despair!”
      Nothing in Cabela’s remains. Rounds a casualty
      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
      The lone and level shelves stretch far away.

  3. Send that St. Louis ATF team to Chicago! They seem to do even worse at prosecuting and convicting,, well, ANYONE of crimes with guns, even though they have the most restrictive gun control laws anywhere in the country. Anyone can write the laws. That’s the easy, up-front. It’s the enforcement of the existing laws that’s the important part, and that which might prevent crime.

    • “Anyone can write the laws. That’s the easy…”

      We do seem to keep taking our eye off the ball. Yes, it’s easy for anyone in a position of power to write a law restricting gun ownership and/or usage. It is unfortunately TOO easy in too many places for those laws to be passed, BUT, the Second Amendment specifically prohibits the government from infringing on the peoples’ natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.

      We MUST spend less time complaining about the lack of will on the part of law enforcement agencies and the judicial system to enforce these laws and a whole lot more time complaining that these laws exist in the first place. To reiterate: when all of the people are free to exercise their Second Amendment right, as written, the problem of violent criminals and mental defectives on shooting sprees will self-correct.

      • Right on Cliff. There are many issues with the justice system, no doubt. But often the essential rights guarenteed in the Constitution allow bad men to walk. That is the price paid for having freedom. The big issue is ridding our nation of the influence of these gun grabbers. They are the problem. If we get rid of their influence so that RKBA is honored EVERYWHERE, then we will be able to deal with the lice that the justice system turns loose.

  4. A bit misleading on the arrest to conviction ratio. Let’s say your typical felon gets busted. First there is the burglary/robbery/drug deal that is the reason for the arrest. Then there is the felon in possession of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm, possession of ammo, possession of a loaded firearm, possession of a firearm with the serial numbers removed, sometimes a charge for an illegally modified weapon, and each and every other charge the DA can think of to attach. Most of those are going to be dealt away at the plea bargain stage. So all of these charges are not necessarily representative of separate arrests, just separate offenses.
    You also have to realize that there is no possible way for the court system to try each and every criminal case filed. There are simply too many of them, and the cost would be astronomical–if you could even find enough jurors to sit for all those trials. And most arrestees don’t want to go to trial anyway, because they are as guilty as sin. So it is all about the deal, the DA dropping everything but the most serious offense(s) so as to get the stiffest possible sentence, and the rest get dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea.

    • You may well be correct in your calculations, the data as first presented is not that precise. However, given the repeal of al those ridiculous and worthless “gun control” laws and the sate getting out of the way of American citizens’ natural, civil and Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the court system backlog would be resolved in short order, as would the recidivism rate amongst career felons.

    • That’s less like a legal system than an all-you-can-eat buffet. There are so many laws and rules available that once an arrest is made, they’re only limited by how many things they *want* to charge a person with. Exactly what the arrestee did and how serious it was is just as irrelevant as the quality of Chuck-a-Rama’s food.

    • I recognize that I may lack some level of sophistication, but the civic leaders released the data, so I put it to work. It seems to me that if you are picked up for three crimes, get charged with one, that is still one arrest. 2300 arrests might represent several more times the crimes.

  5. Unfortunately though, the reality is that it costs way too much to incarcerate, at least in the current system. I think that prison tends to cost between 50000 and 60000 per year on average. Additionally, while those criminals surely need to be punished, the truth is that we can’t or won’t lock them up forever. Which means that they will eventually get out. Currently, the US is looking at around a 75 percent recidivism rate. This means that even with maximum prosecution, most criminals will get out, and most will reoffend in some way. And we also cannot afford to put most people on trial – most cases are plea bargained simply due to there not being enough personnel or financial resources. We also know from analysis that prison and jail do not encourage criminals to cease criminal behaviour. Only while they are in prison will their crimes be confined away from society. It’s a really screwed up situation, and the system is under intense pressure to accomplish crime reduction while decreasing costs. So far, it continues to be a bit of a crap-shoot. It doesn’t help that we spend so much on a definitely lost drug war. Any ideas?

    • Fewer crimes available to charge someone with.

      For starters, decriminalize marijuana; that will get a lot of nonviolent offenders out of the “justice” system pipeline and mostly remove its status as a gateway to the harder drugs. Focus instead on crimes that actually have victims. I’d really like to see what that approach could do.

    • Start with observing that US has the single highest incarceration rate of all countries on this planet – both per capita, and in absolute number. Higher than Russia. Higher than China. Higher than Iran.

      If that strikes you as ridiculous, that’s because it is. Only half of those in prison are there for violent crimes. From 1989 to 2003, prison population in US has quadrupled – while violent crime has been steadily going down. So what happened? Well, war on drugs, and various associated “tough on crime” programs such as mandatory minimum sentencing, three strikes laws etc. Three quarters of all new inmates are in for nonviolent crimes, and most of that is “drug abuse”. Overall, 22% of prison population is there on drug charges, and most of those are users, not dealers or manufacturers.

  6. FYI: From what I understand. To be entrapment a government agent has to coerce a person into committing a crime that they would not have otherwise done had it not been for the government agent. Merely giving the person ‘the opportunity’ is NOT entrapment.

    One of the more infamous examples of entrapment concerned a woman that purchased drugs for an undercover officer because the undercover officer was nagging her so badly. She did it to get the undercover officer ‘off her back’. That was considered entrapment.

  7. So, why exactly did they have to set up a sting? Couldn’t they have just waited for these idiots to do their thing again naturally (as they’ve already proven willing to do) and actually punished them this time?

    • Without these long, involved, elaborate sting operations it would be difficult for them to justify their inflated budgets.

  8. I mean, we could always try putting gulags in alaska, but I’m not so sure that would be appropriate our supposedly human rights conscious society.

    • Gulags in Alaska? Way too generous, and the plane/boat/train/bus fare would be a strain on our fiscal resources.

      Put them in some cesspit of an inner city, instead.

      Oh wait…

    • What Alaskans? They say they are only seen in the spring and summer when they come out of hibernation to eat and mate. There is an awful lot of Alaska, and not a lot of Alaskans. Or would you prefer that we just put up a wall around Manhattan? Either works for me….

      • Maybe Attu or Kiska. No trees, so put ’em up in cinder block barracks, ban imports of wood, or anything else that floats. Let the climate chill them out.

  9. I infer that you think they should have gotten more convictions in the arrest ratio. It is equally plausible that the police are so incompetent that they arrest innocent people.

  10. In all fairness, a significant percentage of those arrests were likely on a general description or associated with a rounding up of the usual suspects.

    Not every arrest is based upon anything that can even generate charges, let alone a conviction.

    Still, that’s a lot of arrests…

  11. Whenever I read something about how many felonies a person has committed, I ask “what felonies?” Isn’t “having a gun” sometimes a felony. We want to be careful how we go about begging for felony enforcement, about how we go about denigrating people with felony convictions.

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