Why gun laws miss the mark


The following editorial appeared in The Orange County Register on Monday, Sept. 28:

Here’s a shocker: Criminals get their guns from friends, family or fellow gang members, not traditional legal channels like licensed dealers, according to a new survey of criminals incarcerated at Chicago’sCook County Jail conducted by researchers from the University of Chicago and Duke University.

The survey consisted of interviews with 99 inmates, the vast majority of whom were current or former gang members, who had illegally possessed a firearm within six months prior to their arrests. While the source of their firearms was unclear in about one-third of the cases, 49 percent of respondents acknowledged receiving guns from a family member, gang member or someone else they knew personally. An additional 16 percent got them from a mutual acquaintance or from someone they did not know on the black market. Just 1.5 percent got them from a gun store and, perhaps surprisingly, just 1.5 percent said they had stolen their guns.

The results are similar to other surveys, including a 1997 U.S. Department of Justice survey that found that 40 percent of state inmates possessing a firearm got it from friends or family and 39 percent got it from the street or another illegal source. Only 8 percent got a gun at a retail store, 4 percent from a pawnshop, 1 percent from a flea market and just 0.7 percent from a gun show.

“(I)t is rare for offenders to buy from licensed dealers, and also rare for them to steal their guns. Rather, the predominant sources of guns to offenders are family, acquaintances, fellow gang members — which is to say, members of their social network,” the authors concluded.

“This proves what we have said all along,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told the Washington Free Beacon. “Criminals don’t go through background checks to acquire a gun. They don’t buy them at gun stores, gun shows or on the Internet. They get them from family, friends and fellow gang members. Gun control laws only affect lawful gun owners.”

The research provides further evidence that calls for “universal background checks” and laws to close gun show “loopholes” will not lead to any significant improvements in public safety, but don’t expect such facts to deter gun-grabbers from their crusade to disarm honest citizens.

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