Gun control laws do not prevent crime; They just satisfy the thirst for blood of the culture warriors

A man grabs a gun displayed at a Shore Shot Pistol Range gun store in Lakewood Township, NJ March 19, 2020. (Eduardo Munoz / Reuters)

They are just another way of fighting culture wars.

Im the last issue of National exam, I write about the lax application of our gun laws and I touch on a theme worth exploring a little more: gun control is not about guns criminality – gun control concerns firearms culture.

If we cared about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, we would lock up the straw buyers. We would be prosecuting buyers for prohibited “lies and attempts” who tamper with their ATF documents. And we would confiscate guns sold in retail transactions that were falsely approved due to flaws in the background check system. But, for the most part, we don’t do much about all of these.

Instead of doing the hard work of enforcing the law on the people who vow to violate it, almost all of our efforts are focused on the most law-abiding group of Americans out there: the people who legally buy guns. firearms at licensed gun dealers, a group that by definition has a felony conviction rate of about 0.0%. They are law-abiding people, but they are also, in large part, the kind of people who crush the cultural buttons of the big-city progressives who dominate the Democratic Party both culturally and financially. From this point of view, what matters is not that gun dealers and their customers are dangerous – which they certainly are not – but that they are dangerous. Icky.

This culture war mentality produces a lot of sloppy thinking and ignorant comments. Take the case of Gail Collins on Thursday’s show. New York Times. Collins is crazy about gun shows, which she seems to be aware of. . . not a lot. “Yeah,” she wrote – really, “Yes“-” Right now, an easy way to buy a firearm without someone checking if you have a history of criminal convictions, mental illness, or a domestic violence restraining order is to pay money at a gun show. “

This is – and this part still matters! – not true.

There is no special legal exemption for gun shows, no matter how many times New York Times the chroniclers insist that it exists. Laws that apply everywhere else in the world apply in the same way, to the same degree, to the same people at gun shows. If you are a criminal or other prohibited buyer, it is a serious federal crime to purchase a gun at a gun show; in most states, including the so-called Wild West state of Texas, it is a crime to sell a gun to a criminal, at a gun show or elsewhere. If you are a licensed gun dealer then you should check your background at a gun show just like you would if you were selling in your store or elsewhere. If you live in a state where background checks are required for private sales (New York, California, etc.), these rules apply to gun shows the same as they do anywhere else. Some gun show operators require private sales background checks, even when they are not legally required. The worst that can be said about gun shows is that they provide a convenient venue for sales that could be done in exactly the same way, by and to the same people, anywhere else. .

Because this is a crop war issue rather than a crime reduction issue, Collins apparently didn’t bother to think about the most obvious and relevant question: Firearms Purchased at Gun Shows Significantly Contribute to Crime? Fortunately, we have a whole federal office – the Bureau of Justice Statistics – that keeps track of these things. His finding? “Among inmates who owned a firearm during their offense, 0.8% obtained it during a gun show.

Picture me putting on my Sheriff Buford T. Justice accent: “Zero– point eight percent! “

Now, given that only 20 percent of the prisoners in the BJS survey were in possession of a gun of any kind at the time of their offense, my major math in English places those guns at the scene. 0.16 percent of these crimes. This number rounds off at the squat.

When I hear Democrats protesting voter ID laws, they usually insist that “there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” It’s true. But there is some electoral fraud – there are people in jail for it, and people are heading there – and we should take reasonable steps to prevent and discourage it, because the social effects of a small electoral fraud are very corrosive. There are a lot of things that are not widespread that still deserve our attention. Are there people at gun shows who profit by intentionally supplying guns to criminals? Maybe, although gun shows aren’t exactly where black merchants lay their shingles. We occasionally prosecute people acting as unlicensed commercial dealers (as opposed to occasional private sellers) at gun shows, which is appropriate. But, again, this offense is a felony whether these sales take place at a gun show, in a garage, or in the trunk of a car – or in a gun store, elsewhere.

The same BJS study contains one of the less surprising findings in the literature: The vast majority of criminals – 90% – don’t get their guns from any sort of retail outlet. The share that acquired them legally in a retail setting (sporting goods store, pawnshop, etc.) is even smaller.

Collins spends five paragraphs denouncing Texas for its new “constitutional portage” law. I myself preferred the old regime of covert porterage, with classwork, shooting test, and background checks required. But what Collins doesn’t mention is that this isn’t a new innovation unique to the redneck states – Texas now has the same law as the right-wing radicals. . . Vermont, which has had constitutional significance as long as we have the Constitution. Texas joins Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming in this arrangement. Some of these states have relatively high murder and other violent crime rates (Alaska, Arkansas) – though none of them have as high a murder rate as half that of the District of Columbia – while others (Maine, Vermont, Idaho) are among the safest states in the Union. The obvious conclusion is that whatever variable is important in murder rates, it is not this one.

Like many firearms officers, Collins can’t be bothered by the facts or the data: “I’m going to take a risk and say that eliminating the sale of semi-automatic rifles would make the country better. . . safe for firearms, ”she wrote. I hope for the sake of his bones that the limb is not too high: as anyone following this issue knows, all “long guns” combined – that is, all rifles from hunting and rifles, not just semi-automatics – account for a tiny fraction of murders, and by tiny I mean fewer murders than those committed with bare hands or with blunt objects. So-called assault rifles as a class are so rarely used in violent crime that federal authorities don’t even bother to break them down statistically. But as far as we can tell, they account for about 2% of violent crime, maybe less.

There are good reasons for this, having nothing to do with gun laws – it’s easier to buy a long gun than to buy a handgun, but it’s hard to stick an AK-47 in your pants or wedge it in your glove. box. You can go out and buy a Barrett .50 caliber semi-automatic rifle and do some real damage – if you’re the kind of criminal who has $ 12,000 burning a hole in his pocket and a propensity to commit crimes he’s into. practice to use a 30 pound rifle and five feet long. It turns out that this is not how most American criminals operate. But .50 caliber rifles are, for some reason, a target of the gun control movement.

Instead of these exotic weapons, criminals usually use handguns. Traditionally, the type of firearm most commonly used in crime in the United States has been the most common type of handgun at the time. For a long time, these were .38 caliber revolvers; now they are semi-automatic 9mm .40 caliber pistols. Criminals don’t get them at gun shows – when they don’t steal them, they get them from their girlfriends. We can and should enforce the straw buyer laws, but if we are to do it we should go into it knowing that we are going to lock up a lot of young women and almost certainly a disproportionate share of them will be black or Hispanic. and low income.

Collins gives the game, writing that a draft gun show regulation won’t do much, “but if it passes, we can at least savor the idea the gun lobby has finally got. a bad day.”

Giving the people you hate a bad day is a bad enough basis for public policy. Collins’ contribution here is unnecessary to the political debate, and as journalism it sits somewhere between incompetence and dishonesty, remaining in that no-man’s-land of mediocrity that spans so many pages of opinion.

But this is really it Kulturkampf politics is all about: fortifying one’s own social status by exercising ritual domination over cultural rivals. This is how you get punitive tax policies that don’t generate much revenue, exclusionary “inclusion” policies, and gun control proposals that have nothing to do with crime. army. It feels good to have power over people you hate or envy. This is the beginning and the end.

And, if that’s what makes your pistons beat – well, then you need Jesus, or at least therapy.

On the flip side, if you want to reduce violent crime, you might want to consider policies that at least have something to do with violent criminals and how they actually arm themselves.

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