Lawful Civilian Gun Ownership, Enforcement of Existing Laws Mean Declining Crime Rates

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By Elizabeth McGuigan

Last week the Department of Justice hosted a series of three public hearings of The Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice. NSSF learned that the nation’s top cops are clearly united on what it takes to reduce crime.

First, it takes increased, targeted prosecutions. Second, a proven strategy is establishing partnerships across levels of law enforcement entities, neighborhoods and the private sector. Not a single member of the commission spoke about gun control proposals.

The first hearing, held on April 7, began with Amy Blasher, the Unit Chief of the FBI’s Crime Statistic Management Unit. She provided an overview of the downward trend in violent crime since 2009 and summarized the known factors that contribute to levels of crime as “population density, youth concentration, economic conditions, cultural, educational, recreational factors, family conditions, climate, effective strength of law enforcement agencies and citizens’ attitude towards crime and reporting to law enforcement.”

It comes as no surprise to the firearm and ammunition industry that gun ownership, the number of firearms owned by law-abiding Americans or the number of federally licensed firearm retailers were not among the factors listed, despite popular claims by gun control groups.

Enforce Existing Laws

Next up was Justin Herdman, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. Speaking on behalf of the 92 U.S. Attorneys nationwide, he praised the tools that the Trump Administration has provided to him and his colleagues.

Herdman called for a “continued and committed prioritization of federal firearms prosecutions especially using under-enforced statutes,” including the prosecution of domestic violence-related firearm cases, straw purchases and drug-related cases.

Herdman offered an example of success in Youngstown in 2019. After an increase in the number of homicides in Youngstown in 2017 and 2018, he worked with the police chief and the local, state and federal partners in that area to develop a strategy “for focused and targeted firearms interdiction associated with particular problem areas in the city.”

The success of this strategy was clear, with a 30 percent reduction in violent crime and a 90 percent reduction in homicides compared to the year before.

Law-Abiding Owners

The second hearing, on April 8, was focused on the issue of “criminal gun crimes and related violence.” Leading the witness list was Tom Chittum, Assistant Director of Field Operations for the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.

He noted, “We know that the vast majority of firearms in America are in the hands of responsible, law-abiding adults, and only a small fraction of firearms will ever be used by a relatively few people to commit violent crime. Many of these people are already prohibited from possessing firearms.”

Assistant Director Chittum walked the Commission through the Gun Control Act and the legal right of individuals to make their own firearms as long as they are not engaged in the business.  He pointed to criminals obtaining firearms illegally through trafficking, theft from FFLs and individuals and through straw purchases.

While the assistant director spoke about criminals who make firearms themselves, he noted that there are no reliable statistics on the frequency of this and that “3D printed firearms are for the most part not common and generally not durable.”

He added, “We’ve seen very few recovered in crimes.”

Industry Assistance

Assistant Director Chittum also noted that, “FFLs are a critical partner in promoting public safety because among other things, they keep firearms out of the hands of prohibited persons by running NICS checks and ensuring guns can be traced by keeping accurate records.”

He called for engaging with FFLs and the public to help deter offenses. His recommendations moving forward are to “aggressively pursue investigations of illegal sources of crime guns…[and] aggressively prosecute not just criminals that use or possess firearms, but also the traffickers, unlicensed dealers and straw purchasers that arm them.”

Other witnesses during this hearing repeated the importance of prosecution under existing statutes and the positive impact that deliberate and strategic criminal prosecutions have had in their communities.

As Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, stated, “…if we each, state, federal and local, commit to using the firearms statutes we have, and we commit to doing these cases and pushing these cases, even when federal judges may disagree that they belong in federal court, or that… they’re ‘serious enough,’ we are going to continue to make inroads.”

NSSF appreciates the Commission’s dedication to prosecution, and stands ready to assist through NSSF’s  ongoing collaborations with the ATF on programs such as helping educate retailers and the public about straw purchasers through Don’t Lie for the Other Guy, and increasing education about safe and secure store practices through Operation Secure Store.

As the hearings continue this week, NSSF looks forward to more information about how the firearm and ammunition industry can support the crucial law enforcement efforts to reduce violent crime in our communities.

 

Elizabeth McGuigan is Director of Legislative and Policy Research at the National Shooting Sports Foundation. 

comments

  1. avatar Sam I Am says:

    All the focus on enforcing existing laws. But those are the people who quickly deal away gun charges in exchange for a plea to avoid trial. And no, getting a plea on a different charge does not provide deterrence to criminals intent on using a gun during a crime. The message received is that illegal gun ownership/use is not a threat to be considered.

    1. avatar Debbie W. says:

      I wouldn’t advise misusing a firearm to test your theory…most likely it will backfire.

      1. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “I wouldn’t advise misusing a firearm to test your theory…most likely it will backfire.”

        Of course it would; I don’t fit the bill. However, what I described is not theory.

      2. avatar George WashingtonGl says:

        And what’s YOUR point Ms.Debbie?… that the kangaroo courts in America are working for AMERICANS????…. I’m here to tell you, YOU’RE WRONG!!!!

  2. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    Libs/dems have NEVER let the facts get in the way of gun/accessory bans…just sayin’…

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      Correct as all gun control laws are clearly un Constitutional,so why pick and choose which would remain to start all over on the infringement of that which “Shall Not Be Infringed.”

  3. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    I like the title of this article. Clearly, the author doesn’t live in Los Angeles County, where the elites do not tolerate allowing the unwashed masses to carry. “Lawful” and “legal” are not the same, but for the sake of this comment I’ll stick with the title’s use of “lawful” and state that the hoop of permissible, lawful gun ownership is getting tighter and tighter here. Our Sheriff Villanueva is a wolf who openly states that he’s not comfortable with the idea of mere (non-sworn) citizens taking it upon themselves to exercise their natural right to bear arms.

    1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      Two comments to add.
      1. It’s too easy to make someone a felon (e.g. the mayor’s
      political enemies).
      2. Don’t automatically believe the first person who calls 911.
      (It would probably take me 10 minutes to stop shaking
      and get my phone out of my pocket.)
      I’m glad they’re asking questions and hopefully listening to everyone.

    2. avatar Garrison Hall says:

      And yet, people keep electing people like your Sheriff to public office. It ain’t us, of course, but there is a large part of the voting public who think that private citizens using firearms to defend themselves against criminals is somehow wrong.

  4. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I’m wondering why this information might be a surprise to some people.

  5. avatar Bill says:

    The only time law enforcement and the government in general should step into the issue of guns is when a crime is committed with a gun. Possession should not be a crime except in very limited circumstances even if the person is a felon. I strongly disagree with the laws that bar felons from owning firearms. If they are on probation, supervised release, or parole they should not have firearms but once they have done their time their rights need to be restored. By saying the government has the authority to prevent felons from owning firearms you are agreeing to the premise that the government gets to decide who can and cannot have a firearm and under what circumstances. Your rights to owning a firearm do not come from government and are not granted by the Second Amendment. They come as a natural right of being born and the Second Amendment is there to prevent the government from interfering in your personal choice of arms.

    1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      I agree. Depends on the felony. If you shove a federal TSA employee at the airport for grabbing your privates, it shouldn’t be a felony. If you’re 18 and steal something, repent with restitution & change your life around, you should’t lose your rights for 70+ years.
      Felony charges were meant for BIG stuff.

      1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

        Like making an illegal copy of a Hollywood movie;-)

  6. avatar Prndll says:

    Dear leader,
    You do your part and keep the animals in their cages and I will do my part and take care of my own needs. Let’s work together for a better society.

  7. avatar Jayk74 says:

    I don’t understand how supposedly pro gun people can cry and whine against proposed gun bans/regulations/laws, but turn around and want gun laws enforced. How can you claim to be pro gun when you want people locked up for violating gun control laws 🤔🤔🤔

    1. avatar Darkman says:

      Like how people scream for the right to kill babies in the womb. Then scream against putting scum bags to death for murder.

    2. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      I am pro arresting people who commit crimes with guns and people who have intention of providing criminals guns knowingly. I am also against the idea that merely possessing a firearm is criminal. Two very different lines of philosophy.

      Shouting fire in a crowded theater where there is none is actually a great example in this case. A person can shout fire in a theater (use a gun defensively) and it be morally right if there is a fire. A person can not morally shout fire in a theater if there is no fire and it causes panic and confusion and risk injury. A person has a voice, they have the right to use that voice as needed but they have a responsibility to go with it.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      Personally I don’t think the gun matters and I’m against all crimes where the state cannot how someone was harmed.

      Where someone was harmed the fact that they were harmed is the crime and the rest is, IMO, meaningless. Running someone over with a car, stabbing or shooting them are all the same crime, the weapon used is essentially meaningless unless it relates to proving the harm/identity of the person who did the harm. Provided that the perpetrator was acting freely, it’s the intent/carelessness and the harm that matter to me.

    4. avatar George WashingtonGl says:

      Quit playing dumb(I know, you’re not playing, you really are dumb), you know exactly which “laws” are infringing and which are needed in a lawful society…
      So take your liberal whining back to Twitter, you Twit…

  8. avatar UpInArms says:

    ” I don’t understand how supposedly pro gun people can cry and whine against proposed gun bans/regulations/laws, but turn around and want gun laws enforced. ”

    I can only speak for myself, and maybe a few fellow gun owners who I’ve had this conversation with, but generally it breaks down like this:

    Prohibitions and restrictions on gun possession, ownership, and choice of method of carry are in violation of 2A. That would apply to felons as well. The 2A prohibits infringement — it does not specify any particular category of persons who fall outside this protection, nor does it address the “common good” or “the interests of the state.” These are made-up constructions that have been overlaid over the basic “no infringement” dictate. So nobody, among my small circle of friends, wants to see anyone locked for violating gun control laws — gun control laws should not exist.

    Where we do want to see enforcement is when those guns are improperly deployed. Carry it around all you like — take it out and squeeze off a round and suddenly the “common good” and “the interests of state” come very much in to play. But this is not gun control. This is criminal control, this is a behavior-related response, and this is very much different from saying we can’t own or carry these things around because we MIGHT do something dangerous or stupid.

    I hope that clears up some of what you don’t understand. We can “cry and whine” about violations of our rights and we can want to see criminal usage prosecuted. See? It really is possible to have your cake and eat it, too.

    1. avatar MarkPA says:

      “. . . it does not specify any particular category of persons who fall outside this protection . . . ”

      You are mistaken. The clause: “. . . of the People . . . ” clearly specifies those who have the right which is guaranteed by the 2A.

      Let’s be clear. We are endowed by our Creator with the right to life. Implied by this right is the right to the means to effectively defend life. We do NOT believe that our Creator designated Americans only with this right.

      Nevertheless, the founding generation ratified the text of the 2A to forbid “infringement” of the “right” “of the People”.

      Presumably, they intended to exclude Loyalists from this guarantee. Likewise, they presumably did not intend to guarantee the right to aliens. Nor to those who – at that time – were outside the community of “the People”; i.e., native Americans or slaves; probably Black freemen.

      So, by defining the class – “the People” – to whom “the right” shall not be “infringed”, the 2A defines all those outside the specified class as NOT guaranteed “the right”.

      We may harbor our respective sentiments about the morality or wisdom of this policy decision – i.e., to secure the right against infringement – to a specified subset of our Creator’s children. Nevertheless, that is the text we have, and it is that text that we must be prepared to defend and enforce (unless and until it is amended).

      To be sure, the definition of the class “the People” has evolved. We are at liberty to debate whether native Americans – today – ought to be included in the class “the People” with respect to the guarantee of the right to arms. I think it would be a pointless debate. I don’t think there is room to debate the right of Black citizens’ to arms. The 14A should have dispensed with this argument. We could debate the right of Green Card holders; but, I doubt that this debate would go anywhere either.

      Like it or not, the fact is that the phrase “the People” does define a protected class leaving all others outside the class so protected. The latter can appeal only to God for redress of grevience.

      1. avatar UpInArms says:

        An interesting, and probably valid point, but squarely in the realm of ho-hum trivia. It’s generally accepted that the Constitution as a whole was never meant to apply to everybody without some measure of qualification. Which makes yours a valid point. But, as you pointed out, the definition of “the people” has been steadily expanded over the life of the Republic, and probably will continue to do so. Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution provides us with a minimal baseline of who “the people” are: “The House of Representatives shall be chosen every second Year by the People of the several States…” The people, then, are all the persons who are eligible to vote in a Federal election.

        All very interesting, and all pretty much tangential to the point I was making. The 2A does not say shall not be infringed… except for felons, miscreant boyfriends, wife beaters, and any other class of individuals the state doesn’t like. It leaves that up to the legislators and courts to decide where the boundary is between the individual right and the interests of the state. Most all of us agree that no right is absolute, that there are specific circumstances where a persons right my be abbreviated in the interests of the larger society. Where that boundary falls is a constantly moving target, and my position and the position of a large percentage of my friends is that denying the right to bear arms to a felon whose has served his time is on the wrong side of the boundary, as is gun control in general.

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “It leaves that up to the legislators and courts to decide where the boundary is between the individual right and the interests of the state.”

          Therein lie all the problems.

      2. avatar Miner49er says:

        Well you know, federal law gives aliens the right to be members of our militia, thereby granting them the right to bear arms under the second amendment.

        1. avatar Ron says:

          What do you care? According to you the second amendment was magically written as a right for the government.

  9. avatar Ark says:

    Sadly I think the notion of putting someone in prison for committing crimes is quickly going the way of the dodo. The solution to all societal problems today seems to be “ACAB” and “prison is racist”. Just abolish the cops and empty all the prisons and the wonderful diverse peoples will come together and join hands in peace. Guns are a racist obstacle to peace, so obviously those have to go, too.

    Good times make weak men.

    1. avatar Miner49er says:

      The numbers show that, per capita, we incarcerate more individuals than any country in the world.

      I’m not sure the incarceration rate in America has been going down, there’s far too much money to be made in the for-profit prison system for it to come to a halt.

      1. avatar Ron says:

        China has more. I garuntee it. They have over 2 million Muslims in concentration camps alone in their most wester province. And that’s reported by the BBC, too. I know you liberals love them.

        But hey, why demonize a racist dictatorship that threatens the world, when instead you could simply bash America, who’s done more for global stability then every single other nation to ever exist, combined.

  10. avatar Paladin says:

    Let’s expound all the restrictions put on the 2A to the 1A, then watch the gun haters become lovers! Hey you got a permit to talk? This is a talk free zone! Do you take illegal drugs? Have any mental issues? Fingerprints please!

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