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Hmmm. Anyone see a link between Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky? I’m thinking rural. The Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) are thinking “lax gun laws” leading to gun crime. Never one to miss an opportunity to distort factual information to support their cause, the Mayors are at it again, distorting factual information to support their cause. We get the heads-up from MAIG founder Michael Bloomberg’s friendly neighborhood newspaper, The New York Times . . .

A study due to be released this week by a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns uses previously unavailable federal gun data to identify what it says are the states that most often export guns used in crimes across state lines. It concludes that the 10 worst offenders per capita, led by Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky, supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states last year.

Click here to download the study. Now, shall we dance? Here’s an excerpt from the Executive Finding:

In 2009, just ten states supplied nearly half – 49% – of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes. Together, these states accounted for nearly 21,000 interstate crime guns recovered in 2009.

So the study focuses on a sample of guns that’s a subset of a subset of a subset. It covers just those guns that crossed states lines (sneaky guns), found their way into a criminal’s hands, who used it in a gun crime, where the gun was recovered and traced. What about all those guns related to gun crimes that didn’t cross state lines? Or the ones that did, but were never recovered. Or were recovered but not traced.

According to the study on recovered border-hopping firearms, this gat category accounts for 30 percent of all the guns used in crimes traced by the ATF in 2009 (43,254 out of 145,321). So why are we even talking about them? Shouldn’t we focus our attention on the crime guns that don’t cross state lines?

When controlling for population, Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, and Georgia export crime guns at the highest rates. These states export crime guns at more than seven times the rate of the ten states with the lowest crime gun export rates.

Hold on there sport. These states don’t intentionally “export” crime guns. Hey Clem, you got those nine mils ready to send to the Lost Boys in New York City? Thanks. That’s a blatant mischaracterization if I’ve ever heard one.

As far as “controlling for population,” shouldn’t we be concerned with absolute numbers rather than the number of crime guns per head of population? MAIGs report offers a chart of “guns exported” that isn’t adjusted per head of population, on page eight.

Three of the states “named and shamed”—Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky—don’t make the top ten. And once you do the population adjusting thing, some of the states in the top ten of unadjusted “export” totals fall off the chart. Number two on the absolute list (Florida) doesn’t crack the adjusted top 20. Number four absolute (Texas) also drops off the adjusted’s top 20.

What does that mean? I’m not quite sure. The MAIG report doesn’t explain why we should care about the number of “exported” crime guns per head of population.

There is a strong association between a state’s gun laws and that state’s propensity to export crime guns . . . Ten gun laws are examined in this analysis. In each case, states that have enacted these gun laws are associated with lower crime gun export rates and a smaller proportion of crime guns . . . The ten states that supply guns at the highest rates have, on average, only 1.6 of these regulations in place, whereas in the ten states that supply interstate crime guns at the lowest rates, the average is 8.4.

Correlation is not causation. In other words, this could be false synchronicity. In other words, although there seems to be a link between the MAIG’s already biased chart of “exporting” states and their gun laws, is there? Is there really? I suppose it would help to know those ten cherry-picked state gun laws.

A. Straw Purchasing, Falsifying Purchaser Information, and Failing to Conduct Dealer Background Checks;
B. Background Checks for All Handgun Sales at Gun Shows;
C. Purchase Permits for All Handgun Sales;
D. Local Law Enforcement Discretion to Approve or Deny Concealed Carry Permits;
E. Gun Possession By Violent Misdemeanants;
F. Reporting Lost or Stolen Guns to Law Enforcement;
G. Local Control of Firearms Regulations; and
H. State Inspection of Gun Dealers.

Strange; I thought they said ten laws. I make that eight. Never mind. So why these ten? I mean eight.

“These laws were selected based on discussions with mayors, other policy-makers, and current and former law enforcement officials [who shall remain nameless].” The footnote notes “While enacting each of these laws has a strong association with both lower crime gun export rates . . . this association may also reflect the collective efforts of a state’s gun laws.”

How scientific is that? If it’s junk science you want, look no further than the report’s summation: “This report concludes that certain gun laws are an important component in reducing criminal access to firearms.” Not “proves.” “Concludes.” Not “vital” or “critical”. “An important component.” Awesome. The propagandists wimped out.

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  1. Your post reminds me of my least-favorite writings of the gun-control folks, who dance this way and that, slicing and dicing, to refute the obvious. Step back a second. Each of your points may have merit; I don't know, because I haven't yet read the MAIG report. But is it not obvious that guns travel from places with weaker laws to places with tougher laws? It is very hard to buy a gun in New York City, yet there are guns aplenty in New York City. Does it not follow, then, that guns are traveling there from somewhere, and is does it not also follow that they will travel from places where they are easy to get? I think we gun people make a mistake when we revile MAIG, which — except for its misguided call for a new assault-rifle ban — supports steps that honest gun owners should embrace. Cracking down on straw purchasers and dishonest gun retailers? How does that infringe anyone's gun rights? Requiring dealers to keep better records? Investigating private sellers who buy enormous quantities of guns? Ditto. Any responsible gun owner who thinks it's an affront to his God-given gun rights to be required to report a stolen firearm needs to man up and behave like a grown-up. Of course we should report stolen firearms; it's the responsible thing for a citizen to do, and the only reason some people want to require it is because too many of us don't do it. I'm a gun guy — I own handguns, I hunt, I have a CCW, I own a legal silencer — but it doesn't seem to me that limiting people to one handgun purchase a month is the first step on the road to tyranny. It might, though, prevent a guy from filling his trunk with handguns in Virginia and driving to New York with them. As I've argued repeatedly, the Second Amendment confers a right to keep and bear arms, not a right to instant gratification. If responsible gun owners would take a moment to breathe, they might recognize that certain gun laws don't compromise freedom but might actually save lives. And accepting them without instinctively retreating to a to-the-barricades fight might actually lower the temperature of the gun debate and do us all a lot of good. Clearly the gun controllers dream up some measures just to fuck with us, because they don't like us as people. Maybe if we gave them less reason to dislike us as people, they'd cook up fewer stupid gun laws that we then have to fight.

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