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“For the longest time, the question has always been, ‘where do the guns come from?’” – Boston Police Superinendent Robert Merner in Agencies join forces in gun crimes center [at bostonglobe.com]

72 Responses to Quote of the Day: Sisyphean Edition

  1. Funny how it’s only the highly restrictive antigun blue states that have a big problem with weapon smugglers.

    It’s almost like prohibition creates a situation that encourages criminal enterprise.

    • Econ 101. Something most liberals have failed at. Take away profit motive, take away incentive to commit crime.

      Dirk Diggler for Mayor!!!

      • This brings to mind an experiment done in England: one jurisdiction decided that the whole bureaucracy for helping the poor and homeless was sufficiently complex to count as putting obstacles in the way of the poor and homeless getting assistance. So they trashed much of the program structure and the bureaucracy and just handed out money to a targeted homeless population. Not only did it improve the situations of those people far more than any government program had done, it also, surprisingly to the bureaucrats, reduced crime.

        Instead of paying a whole horde of parasites to try to judge who deserves what among the poor, and instead of policies that persecute people for being poor, we should try just handing out a monthly stipend. In England, it saved astounding amounts, and since people didn’t need to steal to live any longer, public peace and safety were improved.

    • Funny indeed, but doesn’t that observation of yours also dovetail well with two main points the antis routinely make and the POTG regularly deny?

      First, stricter gun regulations imposed by a state can effectively limit the availability of guns used by criminals in that state, so much so that they must import them from other states.

      Second, “lax” gun control in other states relative to the importing state affords easy availability, providing a backdoor for in-state criminals to acquire guns.

      The antis therefore conclude that If only we had more strict national gun regulations, then we could plug these holes in state-by-state regulations that allow one state’s lax laws to undermine another state’s strict laws.

      • “If only we had more strict national anti-drug regulations, then we could plug these holes in state-by-state regulations that allow one state’s lax laws to undermine another state’s strict laws.”

        There, fixed it for you.

        Because this concept is working so well on the problem of solving (insert your government prohibited item here) and the criminals that profit from same.

        • Soooo….your counterpoint is that unless an item can be eradicated, then it’s pointless to prohibit it? Interesting. What perfect world do you live in, where rape, murder, and child pornography don’t exist, such that there is no longer a need to prohibit them? See what I did there?

          You’ve fixed nothing, my friend. You merely sidestepped the topic by invoking an all or nothing false dilemma. Success lies in efficient mitigation, not in complete elimination. If you’re waiting for perfection, you’ll wait a long time. If you’re advocating anarchy, be careful what you wish for.

          Try again.

        • @Jonathan:
          Your argument is deeply flawed. Much like the statists who promote government spending to “fix” economic problems, you’re missing the significant opportunity costs.

          Drugs have a damaging effect on our society. Even the relatively harmless drugs like alcohol and marijuana are harmful to their users and potentially to people they interact with. What is the cost, both social and monetary, of all of this harm?

          Now compare the solution: prohibition. More money spent on law enforcement, courts, and prisons. Erosion of civil liberties. Increased crime as the gangs fight over territory. And for what? A decrease in the cost of the prohibited item (the price of most drugs has gone down since the drug war began in the 1960s). An increase in the potency (the potency is up since the 1960s). An increase in usage (also up since the 1960s).

          The costs versus benefits of prohibition are obvious: the costs are high and the benefits are negative. The costs versus benefits of legalization are much better: the costs are low and there are benefits: we now tax alcohol and do a passable job of keeping kids from buying it (ask any teen how much easier it is to buy cocaine than beer).

          Preventing a rape or a murder (or punishing/rehabilitating the criminal afterwards) has a much smaller cost for a much larger gain. People aren’t going to rape speakeasies or murder crack dens to get their fix of rape and murder.
          Our rape and murder rates are low, not because they’re illegal, but because we are a civilized society, where all but a tiny minority consider these actions wrong.

        • Actually, Jason, my argument is right on target, and in your confusion, you argued against what you agreed with.

          I said efficient mitigation is the goal. EFFICIENT mitigation, that is, considering the opportunity costs involved to achieve the outcomes. That’s what you just said, too, under the guise of disagreement.

          As for rape, murder, et. al., if you think that razor thin veneer of so-called civilization we enjoy is any protection or constitutes any difference between us and the savagery you see on the world news, then think again. You have no idea whatsoever the depths of depravity that your family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen occupy on a daily basis.

          Spend a weekend evening at any big city public hospital ER. Volunteer at a women’s shelter. Sign up for a few patrol cop ride alongs. Sit down and interview any given Asst. District Attorney, particularly in the Special Victims Bureau or equivalent where you live, or even just the Intake Division. The phrase “Man’s inhumanity to man” will take on a fresh, Hellish new meaning, and you’ll be disabused of Pollyanna notions about “civilization.”

          It’s brute force, either applied at the scene by an armed defender or later by an even more well armed legal system, that deters would-be violent criminals, not any alleged revolution in human nature or evolution in human institutions. Forms of brute force are imperfect appliances, to be sure, and so here we are, still enduring violent crime in our society; but we’re managing that risk through trade-offs, not vain appeals to humanity and neither naive insistence upon perfection.

          And that was the extent of my point: we work with the tools we have and manage the trade-offs between options. Sitting around pooh-poohing things because they’re not perfect, is childish, unhelpful, and counterproductive.

      • Which would work just about as well as Alcohol Prohibition or the War on Drugs.

        The solution is to do something about the criminal demand, not by restricting the legal supply.

        “First, stricter gun regulations imposed by a state can effectively limit the availability of guns used by criminals in that state, so much so that they must import them from other states.”

        All it does is change how they acquire their illegal guns. Instead of stealing them from residents, they import them. It does not change that they are acquiring them illegally, it only changes how.

        • Except, most guns in the possession of inmates at the time of their crime did not come from illegal sources such as theft or black marketeers. That’s what you keep missing and that’s why tracing is a valuable investigative tool. But what about those that are stolen? Who are YOU to deny law enforcement tracing capability to track down my stolen property and prosecute the offenders?

          Really, not one single one of you does not have a state-issued I.D. of some sort, which entails personal identifiers such as photo and/or fingerprints, and a federally issued social security number. Your own flesh and blood, constitutionally protected bodies are registered and traceable! Yet, that fact goes unnoticed. Curious, that.

          Unnoticed, that us, until YOU’RE the victim of a crime. O….M……G…..as the kids say, then it…..is……on! Bring on the CSI team! Dust for prints! Pull the surveillance footage! Run facial recognition software! Gather specimens and take swabs! Compare it to the known offender DNA database! And that’s not even counting VINs and license plates and tracking apps for your electronic devices which you readily engage to trace and catch the bad guy. Well.

          I guess it all depends on whose ox is being goared. When it’s coffee house or comment board bull sessions, it’s all good, baby. When it’s real life, people demand results and justice.

        • @Jonathan-Houston

          “Except, most guns in the possession of inmates at the time of their crime did not come from illegal sources such as theft or black marketeers.” [Citation Needed]

          Especially because most data I’ve ever seen or heard shows the opposite.

          To address your other point about theft recovery, if one of my firearms were ever stolen, I would provide the Serial Number to the police to aide in their investigation. Until then, they have no need, requirement, or justifiable reason to know that serial number or tie it to me.

          If I had a TV stolen, I would provide the SN. Computer/laptop, chainsaw, cordless drill, etc., I would provide the SN. Until then, the police aren’t allowed to have the SNs for any of those things, because that’s an invasion of my privacy.

          The police have the VIN of my car because I drive on public roads. It is not for theft tracking, until I report my car stolen, upon which time…guess what? I provide the SN, just like everything else.

      • The gun-ban crowd can conclude what they will as they please, but the fundamental issue is that making a product or service more illegal than it currently is, and in more places and circumstances, won’t solve the problem.

        The argument that ‘unless an item can be eradicated, then it’s pointless to prohibit it’ is actually pretty solid when it applies to victimless crimes – firearm/standard-cap magazine possession, recreational drugs, prostitution, etc.

        • The difference with guns is the utility. You can’t use drugs to stop drugs, porn to stop pedophiles, prostitutes to stop johns. Obviously you can use a gun to stop a bad guy with a gun. This is the one point were the arguments break down, the gun is not inherently damaging to persons or society, unlike all the other things we normally seek to ban, like drugs, sex-trafficking, child porn, etc. Keep yer powder dry.

        • You finally convinced me. We can’t eliminate prostitution and drugs, among the so-called victimless crimes. So how about we just designate the sidewalk in front of YOUR house as the official junkie/whore zone? Let’s see how victimless those trades are when they’re taking place in full filthy gory glory outside your front door, hmm?

          You and others of your ilk are so full of crap. The proof? You don’t already volunteer to live in a “victimless crime” infested neighborhood. Those who do live in such places, try like hell to get out, because they know the victimless crime bit is bogus.

          More proof? You conveniently established your own private theorem reserving this principle only to so-called victimless crimes. Well. The scriptures tell us that the Heavens rain on the just and the unjust alike. You don’t get to carve out your own personal exemption. I get why you tried, though. Who wants to defend rape, murder, child pornography as inevitable, so eligible for decriminalization? Nobody.

          But…..expediently shift the principle to apply only to “victimless crimes” and voila! Instant acceptability, without the messiness of extending the argument to its natural conclusion.

          It won’t do.

      • “First, stricter gun regulations imposed by a state can effectively limit the availability of guns used by criminals in that state, so much so that they must import them from other states.”

        The criminals probably never even notice a dearth of guns, stolen ones suffice as a really cheap alternative, and the smuggling ramps up nearly instantly, gimme the money. For those who argue the point, Texas, I believe, does not have a smuggling problem. I doubt Maine has a smuggling problem. Only states with highly unconstitutional restrictions on their citizens have a smuggling problem, which could be alleviated in a week by dropping all unconstitutional restrictions. Drug smuggling likewise, but at least drugs are not specifically protected by their own individual constitutional amendment.

  2. “More recently, Jenkins, known as Styx, was smuggling them from Northern states with loose gun laws such as Maine, where anyone without a felony can buy a gun within minutes.”

    Well, yeah. What’s your point?

    • I’m a born and raised Mainer with my CCW and a small collection. I can tell you we are one of the safest places in the nation with no real “gun crime” to speak of short of the regular poachers. The guns aren’t the problem…

  3. “For the longest time, the question has always been, ‘where do the guns come from?’ I mean, we know where the criminals come from, most were born and raised right here in our liberal paradise, and we know that because we constantly arrest them for violent crimes and then release them that very same day. That part’s easy, it’s these damn gunz we can’t figure out.”

  4. From the Boston Globe article, “Last month, the ATF … opened the region’s first Crime Gun Intelligence Center, a warehouse of gun-tracking technology that could help authorities more quickly identify such gun smuggling: A way to trace guns, who has them, how they got them, how many more are out there, and whether they were used in a crime.”

    How is that even possible? Federal law prohibits the feds from keeping a registry.

    Also from the article, “The databases would allow investigators to determine whether a gun owner sought to buy guns elsewhere, or whether a licensed dealer sold more than one gun to a person.”

    Again, how in the Hell would the ATF know that? I can only see two possibilities:
    (1) The feds record every NCIS query and form 4473 that we fill out when purchasing from a licensed firearms dealer.
    — OR —
    (2) The feds are eavesdropping on every telephone call, every credit card and Internet transaction, and every Internet search to determine who has what.

    Both options violate federal law and our right to privacy. Of course that has never stopped the feds before … why would it stop them now?

    • There is no law that prevents States from creating or maintaining records pertaining to firearms. There are many States that keep these records without it being known publicly.

    • u-s,

      Yes, MA does have a computerized firearms database. It used to be on IBM card-size forms that were manually filed. I don’t know how old the paper version is but it was present when I bought my first gun in 1976.

    • The feds inspect FFL’s “Bound book” whether paper or on computer, and it’s been reported that they make copies of all the pages which should be unlawful and forbidden, but who’s gonna protest when it might mean losing your FFL?

  5. Criminals do not follow the law hence the name criminal, whether they be hood rats or government, they still doo not follow the law.

    • True enough, but neither do criminals operate in a vacuum. With rare exception, they must interact with law abiding people in the legitimate economy at some point. It’s that contact point where LEOs focus their efforts in gun control.

      After all, while zip guns do exist and it’s possible to churn out rudimentary firearms from your neighborhood middle school’s metal shop, that isn’t a significant source of firearms used in crimes. It’s faster, cheaper, and safer to obtain a commercially manufactured firearm, which, at some point entails some tangency with the legitimatr economy and some degree of traceability.

      Given that, the antis harp on gun sale restrictions and tracking.

      • No, criminals do not need to interact with the legitimate economy to acquire firearms, or any other good for that matter. As was detailed in the next story up from this one (which I grant may not have been up when you commented) there are 200K+ firearms stolen a year which then enter the black market. Criminals can and do go there to acquire their firearms. The only interaction with law abiding citizens is when legally owned property was stolen from said law abiding citizen.

        • Ohhhhh…..NOW we’re taking the stats as gospel? I read in here often people joking about guns being lost in boating accidents. The fact is, nobody knows how many guns are actually stolen per year. Some are, sure, while others are merely claimed to have been. Some are hidden from divorce lawyers, creditors, LEOs, current spouses. Some are provided surreptitiously with plausible deniability to criminals. Some are insurance scams. You don’t know.

          Since you like the stats, though, let’s go with the Bureau of Justice Statistics and their report on inmates’ sources of their firearms, shall we? Inmates themselves, without risk of further prosecution, concede that only about 40% of their firearms came from illegal/street sources. Less than half. How about that?

          Another 40% came from friends/family. And most of the rest came from over the counter business purchases. Huh. How about that? Many of those sources are traceable and provide an investigative means for pursuing accomplices and witnesses against the accused.

          Even tracing the STOLEN firearms provides a means of tying a criminal to that theft, which you may be aware of, is yet another crime. All of which involves law abiding people at some point along the way.

          Really, the illogical, ideological lengths to which 2A absurdists, er, I mean, extremists, er, I mean, purists, (bah, define and label yourselves whatever you want) will go in defense of their toys, including hamstringing law enforcement and giving criminals a pass, is absolutely appalling.

        • “Inmates themselves, without risk of further prosecution, concede that only about 40% of their firearms came from illegal/street sources”

          Yo, dude ALL of those sources are illegal! ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!! What are you thinking, there is no such thing as a convicted felon obtaining a firearm legally. How many different ways can we hide the fact that the problem is CRIMINALS!

      • I kinda think you missed the point. The government has no problems dealing and interacting with law-abiding citizens, and you will do what I say or your ass is toast. Criminal government agents/agencies have an immunity compared to street criminals, and can do pretty much as they please. This is a bunch more dangerous than some street punk such as this post is about.

  6. Reading through the Boston Globe article raised the same Red Flags as uncommon_sense lists above. If there are no permanent records kept in a central database, how in the hell can this system do what it is purported to do?

    I can see there being a database of guns “reported stolen” to PD’s around the Country, but tracking “Straw Purchases” through Federal Records should not be legally possible.

  7. Ugh, so much fail here. Since I am on vacation I will respond to the Globe article with comments:
    1. “Stanley Earl Jenkins Jr. thought he could go undetected, as he had for so long. He was a feared Boston gang leader who ran a conspiracy to smuggle guns from Maine and send crack cocaine back to customers in that state.”- Well, the obvious solution is to make crack cocaine illegal in MA (or ME), That will teach him! Oh wait.

    2. “ultimately determined that Jenkins, 31, had trafficked at least 40 illegal weapons into Boston, and he was suspected in a murder. In 2009, he was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.” – Yet, he was out on the streets just 5 years later committing more felonies. He must have been an exceptional prisoner.

    3. “He was responsible, just one kid responsible, for the purchase of more than 50 firearms,” Merner said. “How many Stanley Jenkins are out there that are using straw purchases in Maine, New Hampshire, places like this?” – Hey Merner, go fV7$ yourself. The guy is a hardened gangster felon, not a kid, that you let out of prison EARLY. How many of the guns were illegally acquired or violent crimes he committed while he should been in Walpole?

    According to the FBI, the violent crime rate in MA is more than double that of NH, ME, and VT on a per state basis. As a a matter of of fact, in 2013 according to FBI stats, the MA rate was 413/100K to a combined 344/100K for the states of NH & ME which you are blaming for your murder problems. Sweep your doorstep and then start worrying about ours.

    BTW, anecdotally, a good friend of mine is a recently retired fairly high ranking NH LEO. He estimates (total WAG based on experience) that roughly 50% of the serious, violent and drug related crime in NH originates in MA. I couldn’t easily find any stats to back that up but it seems plausible to me.

  8. It’s plausible that a given state’s restrictions give rise to a black market in trafficking guns from out of state, such that we would expect to find a majority of guns traced in a heavily regulated state to have originated out of state. Likewise, one would expect a majority of guns traced in a (relatively) lightly regulated state to have originated within that less regulated state, as its laws would not induce a profitable illegal import market. And this is in fact what we do see with the two states, MA and ME, mentioned in the article. Using 2013 ATF trace source data, only 42% of Massachusetts traced guns originated in state, while 78% of Maine traced guns originated in state.

    Looking at five states generally regarded as being among the most pro-gun (AK, AZ, KY, UT, and VT), the in-state origination percentage is an expected majority in each and averages 78%.

    Looking at some of the worst offending states (CA, NJ, NY, IL, MD) and D.C., the expected opposite is mostly true: they average just 40% of guns traced having originated in-state, with the balance coming from out of state.

    What’s weird are some of the worst of the worst, which actually have a majority of their traced guns originating IN-STATE: CA 71%, IL 53%, and MD 56%.

    If heavy restrictions give rise to blackmarket smuggling, then why do a majority of traced guns in some of the worst states actually originate in-state, instead of from the oh so bad “lax” gun law states? I thought maybe it’s due to a state having transformed from free to slave over time, and there being an abundant supply in-state left over from the good ol’ days.

    However, in California, for example, the average time to crime of 13.7 years, while higher than the national average of 11.1 years, isn’t the highest out there. It isn’t as high as long time slave states such as NY’s 15.1 years, and it is much shorter than the time since CA became anti.

    So there’s more to this gun source issue than merely how supposedly strict a state’s laws are. I’m ok with LEO efforts tracking these guns. If anything, the data demonstrates the inanity of one size fits all solutions.

    • ” And this is in fact what we do see with the two states, MA and ME, mentioned in the article. Using 2013 ATF trace source data, only 42% of Massachusetts traced guns originated in state, while 78% of Maine traced guns originated in state.”

      Wow. WTF does that mean? Is there anything, at all, meaningful in that gibberish? “Shall not be infringed.” That seems meaningful. Where does that authorize “trace data”? Who cares where a constitutional right “originated”? Do you think any of that post is meaningful at all? A better use of your time and investigative powers would be the question of, when push comes to shove, how many armed people would show up to contest one position vs the other, prepared to fight and kill and die? IOW, you run your mouth a lot, will you back it up with your life?

      • That came out wrong, I did not mean YOU you, I meant a question for each of us to consider. Sorry if that sounds like an attack.

  9. I thought they couldn’t save gun records from NICS…hmmm. Why are they worried about finding the guns? Just find the criminals.

  10. The funny thing is that once these clowns retire they all move to more gun friendly states. So it’s just hypocrisy on their part.

  11. This isn’t exactly one of the greatest mysteries of the world like “is there a God?”: or “Does the light in the fridge go out when I shut the door?”

  12. Who taught this guy how to speak? “For the longest time, the question has always been…”? I guess he likes to be redundant again and again.

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