I came across a recent NRA-ILA article about a Bureau of Justice Statistics crime report. The first two paragraphs, a quarter of the article, contain nothing about the crime report and are, instead, a list of insults about President Obama on topics ranging from the economy to golf.
The subject of the article is introduced in the third paraghraph with,
Adding to the bad news for the Obama agenda, a report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS-a component of the Justice Department) shows that firearm homicides in general, and violence at schools, have decreased substantially during the last two decades
This seems odd to me because the statistics the NRA is citing show a precipitous drop in violent crime since 1993, which is when the Brady bill was passed. To me, that seems like good news for the “Obama agenda”.
A lot of people argue that the Brady bill had no effect. They argue that a) The Brady bill only effected 32 states, and b) Crime started dropping before the Brady bill, in 1991. But the states that the Brady bill didn’t effect already had strict gun control laws. Before the Brady bill, people who lived in those states wouldn’t find it difficult to get guns elsewhere.
Also, from at least 1970 until 1990, peaks were often followed by dips lasting a couple of years, followed by continuations of the rise. That means that by 1994 when the Brady bill went into effect, the crime rate should have started rising again as it did in 1976, 1983 and 1987.
Bureau of Justice Statistics Violent Offenses per 100,000
I’m not calling this proof that the Brady bill worked or that it worked by itself. There are a lot of theories about the drop in crime since the ’90s and I personally like the lead abatement theory. I just don’t see how a drop in crime rate since an important piece of gun control legislation was put into place looks bad for gun control.
But another point that the NRA and other anti-background-check organizations are cheering about is the small percentage of guns obtained at gun shows by criminals who were arrested while possessing those guns.
40 percent of criminals get their guns from friends and family members, and another 37 percent get theirs from theft or other illegal sources
. Rolling “theft or other illegal sources” together glosses over the fact that direct theft is a relatively rare means of obtaining a gun. Must guns held by criminals during their arrest came from family or friends. The next biggest block came from illegal purchases.
What the report doesn’t say is where the guns came from before they fell into the hands of illegal dealers or others willing to provide guns to people about to commit crimes.
A guy who wants a gun but can’t get one because of his criminal record probably isn’t going to steal one and he’s probably not going to wait for the next gun show to roll through town. He’s probably going to go to someone who buys and sells guns and is willing to put them in the hands of people who can’t pass background checks. That person, if he also has a criminal record ( which seems likely for someone who sells guns to criminals ), probably gets his guns from gun shows, the internet, or trade with other dealers, etc. Closing loopholes won’t stop all of these sales, but will stop a lot of them. It will certainly stop a lot more than the less than 1% that gun control opponents would have you believe based on the BJS report.
Just because a prisoner responding to a survey says, “I got my gun from a friend”, doesn’t mean that universal background checks wouldn’t have prevented that gun from getting into the hands of a criminal.