Before we start enacting new gun laws to deal with crime, perhaps we might want to begin enforcing the laws we have.
That’s not just a conservative bromide, mind you. Those are the conclusions of a study published in the Journal of Urban Health, which found that most guns used in shootings were obtained illegally just prior to the incident.
“The study, funded by an award from the National Institute of Justice, looked at the final sale or transfer of firearms to individuals who then used them to commit crimes. It relied on data from the Chicago Inmate Survey (CIS), which interviewed 221 people convicted of gun crimes serving time at seven Illinois state prisons,” The Washington Free Beacon reported Wednesday.
“The researchers, from the University of Chicago and Duke University, note that while a great deal of research has examined the ‘time to crime’ for firearms — often finding guns take decades to make their way from legal purchases into the criminal market — little research exists on the last transfer to the people who use firearms in a crime.”
The study’s authors wrote that the “CIS respondents were almost all barred from purchasing a gun from a gun store because of their prior criminal record — as a result, their guns were obtained by illegal transactions with friends, relatives, and the underground market.”
“Researchers found the median time between purchasing a firearm and using it in a crime was two months,” The Free Beacon reported. “Furthermore, 42 percent of respondents said they did not have a gun six months before their arrest.”
So, let’s get this straight.
Liberals want more gun legislation in this country. Anyone who pays any attention to the 2020 race for the Democratic presidential nomination knows that you’re not anybody unless you’ve proposed some way to further impede gun ownership.
One candidate, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, has made it the chief issue of his campaign. (He’s promised to confiscate all so-called assault weapons and even jokingly proposed nuclear war against those who dissented.)
But, at least according to this study, the one thing we could do to stop gun violence is to enforce the law.
The law specifically said these individuals shouldn’t have guns. And yet these individuals had guns. And they shot people with them.
So what do we do in response? We propose more gun laws.
It’s not that our current laws are ineffective. What the study makes clear is that these individuals “were almost all barred from purchasing a gun from a gun store because of their prior criminal record — as a result, their guns were obtained by illegal transactions with friends, relatives, and the underground market.”
What then? Do we think that more gun laws will choke that “underground market” or prohibit friends and relatives from trading firearms with individuals likely to use guns in criminal acts? Let me remind you that this was the Chicago Inmate Survey, meaning that this involved people who were arrested for gun crime in the city with what are arguably the toughest gun laws in America.
“If the task is finding every gun, that feels hopeless,” Harold Pollack of the University of Chicago said.
“But if you focus on hindering or interfering with the transaction of guns, that doesn’t seem quite as hopeless,” he said.
This is something we can do by enforcing existing laws. But enforcing existing laws isn’t sexy. If you listen to Democrats, we need big new laws.
If you listen to researchers, however, what we need is effective enforcement of the laws we have. That might not sound particularly great on the campaign trail, but it’s what America needs.
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