Meanwhile, the states with the worst rates of gun murders are states with lax gun control.
And, in places with strict gun control but high levels of gun violence — like Chicago or DC — guns are easily obtained and transported from neighboring states like Michigan and Indiana, or Virginia and West Virginia, with some of the most relaxed gun restrictions on Earth.
Okay. Let’s look at those states. First, the nice states that the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s gave good grades in 2016 and those that didn’t meet the grade required to pass. On the lower map, the red states are those the Giffords Center called out as having the weakest gun laws.
Now we should look at state-by-state rate of firearm-related murders compared to the 2016 national average rate of 4.46 per 100,000 population.
Now I have played a little trick here. I have limited “gun violence” to homicides because homicide is what is actually scary and because it is the crime most often visualized in relation to the term “gun violence.” Suicide, while a serious problem and certainly tragic in its own right, isn’t generally a threat to the wellbeing of the general population.
Mr. Brezenoff, as so many others have done, seeks to minimize the high murder rates in areas with stricter guns laws by saying the guns come from outside of those areas. So what? The overwhelming majority of the murders in these states are committed by residents so it doesn’t really matter where the guns come from.
The silliness of the “imported” argument can be easily demonstrated by the oft-used defense of Chicago’s high murder rate. Chicago politicians are fond of saying that the guns used in the Second City’s killings come from outside the city. That’s true right up until someone mentions that even the guns carried by Chicago’s police officers come from outside the city. Chicago doesn’t have any licensed gun dealers within the city limits.
Straw purchases (where a person that can pass a background check buys a gun for a person that can’t) are a federal offense. It’s also a federal offense to even hand a gun to a person that is prohibited from possessing one. The law, first passed in 1938, says not only can a felon not purchase a firearm from a dealer, they can’t possess one — even temporarily. Over the years, people with mental health issues that might make them a danger, users of illegal drugs, persons convicted of even misdemeanor domestic violence, persons dishonorably discharged from the military and several other classes of people have been added to the prohibited list.
Yet there is a thriving trade in straw purchases and back-alley gun dealing. Why? Because there is good money to be made from it. This is true of the black market in arms around the world, which is a multi-billion-dollar market.
Mr. Brezenoff claims to remember the killings at Columbine High School in April 1999. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold obtained their guns through a combination of straw purchases and an illegal sale of a handgun to a minor. They spent a year working on a plan to collapse the roof over the cafeteria at lunchtime, resulting in a far higher casualty count than the final toll. They built propane bombs, pipe bombs — all federal offenses — sawed off the barrels of their shotguns (another federal offense) and selected the locations they thought would allow their bombs to blow out the roof supports. By most accounts, the guns were to be used to shoot those trying to escape.
Out of all the people who enabled Harris and Klebold, only the man who sold them the semi-automatic pistol ever went to prison and he was charged only with the sale.
But none of this trade would exist if there wasn’t a demand.
I must confess my disappointment. I would have hoped for more than a rehash of the same old talking points. I honestly hoped to find some fresh thinking.