Every time there is a mass shooting or any other criminal event involving guns there is a chorus of voices imploring us to think about the children and pass new background check laws or other restrictions on the purchase of firearms. It’s a touching story and one which gets the media all up in high dudgeon as they beseech us to help stop the violence. So how much of an impact will these laws have in terms of keeping the guns out of the hands of the bad guys? Yet another study (which will doubtless receive no attention in the mainstream media) has given us a fairly good idea of the answer to that question. Criminals aren’t buying their guns at Walmart, folks. (NRA-ILA)
Numerous studies conducted by academic researchers and by the federal government have shown that criminals do not use legal markets to obtain guns. And now we have more evidence of this reality, this time looking at criminals in Chicago.
Philip J. Cook, Susan T. Parker, and Harold A. Pollack conducted interviews with criminals being held in the Cook County Jail. Their primary findings were that criminals get guns from their “social network,” i.e. friends and persons known to them, but generally not from the various legal sources available to them.
They do not buy guns in gun stores. They do not get guns at gun shows. They do not buy them from Internet sources. The study even found that criminals only rarely steal guns.
The basic mechanics of this study are of interest because of the source material used. Let’s say you want to know where criminals are getting the guns they use in their crimes. I suppose you could do a national survey and ask people what they think. Or you could call in Michael Bloomberg or one of the other leaders of various gun grabbing groups and get them to opine. But these studies took a different approach: they went into the jails and prisons and asked the actual prisoners themselves. What a refreshing idea.
The results shouldn’t be all that shocking to anyone who has thought about it in an honest fashion for more than a few minutes. Lots of criminals who are playing the game at a level that will involve shooting people already have extensive records and wouldn’t pass even the most cursory background check if they tried to purchase a gun legally. (And contrary to popular liberal belief, there are virtually no legal gun sales taking place which don’t require a background check aside from family or estate purchases.) And even if a would be criminal has a clean enough record to buy one, the study reveals that most of them fear purchasing a gun legally because they know it could be quickly traced back to them. There are probably a few stupid criminals out there who don’t realize this, but thankfully the stupid criminals are generally the easiest ones to find.
Instead, the people we should actually be trying to stop are buying their guns on the black market. They get them from friends and criminal associates. Most of those interviewed even distrusted so called internet sales on guns because they feared they were sting operations and they’d wind up trying to buy one from an ATF agent. In other words, passing more laws to hamper the sales of guns through normal, legal means is only going to impede people who tend to follow the law in the first place. I know… I know… knock you over with a feather.
Strangely, the closing footnotes of the linked study still seem to wind up at the wrong destination after producing so much good work.
They concluded that since criminals do not hold guns long, “disrupting” the supply chain would have a positive effect on criminal gun use. That seems like a safe conclusion driven more by common sense than any evidence from an expensive academic study. But how this “disruption” can be achieved is not spelled out or suggested.
I absolutely agree that “disrupting the supply chain” of guns passing into the hands of criminals is a wonderful idea. Of course, you’re not going to do that by closing down gun shops or shutting down gun shows or putting more restrictions on legal sales to law abiding citizens. You could, however, enforce our existing laws and aggressively channel the necessary resources into law enforcement to root out and eliminate the suppliers who are selling black market weapons to drug dealers and killers. But I suppose that makes too much sense to bother with, eh?