“Commonsense” Gun Control Laws

“Commonsense” Gun Control Laws

(Lifted from Clayton Cramer)

Supporters of restrictive gun control and “assault weapon” bans insist they only want “commonsense” gun control laws.  But many of these proposals have been tried and found wanting.

1.      1. Mandatory background checks for every gun transfer.  But 13 states have adopted such laws since 1960 when FBI murder statistics became sufficiently reliable to test the effects of these laws on murder rates: California,[1]Hawaii,[2]Illinois,[3]Massachusetts,[4]New Jersey,[5]and Rhode Island.[6]  A few more states have for a few years required such a check for private party transfers of handguns (with a few exceptions such as intrafamily transfers): Maryland,[7]Iowa,[8]Michigan,[9]Nebraska,[10] New York,[11]North Carolina,[12] and Pennsylvania.[13]  Hawaii, North Carolina, and Michigan, passed these laws so recently that we do not have enough data to measure results yet.

state
first full year
murder rate avg. (T-5)
murder rate avg. (T+5)
change
significant
type
Cal.
1991
11.02
12.3
10.4%
FALSE
all
Ill.
1968
6
8.94
32.9%
FALSE
all
Iowa
1978
2.24
2.38
5.9%
FALSE
pistols
Maryland
1997
11.96
9.06
-32.0%
TRUE
pistols
Mass.
1969
2.62
3.78
30.7%
FALSE
all
Nebr.
1992
3.12
3.4
8.2%
FALSE
pistols
Penn.
1998
6.12
5.1
-20.0%
TRUE
pistols
R.I.
1991
4.16
3.72
-11.8%
FALSE
long guns

Yes, of eight states, three had declines in murder rates, but only two were statistically significant.  Five had increases.  If these laws are really effective, why are the results all over the map?  You would expect at least some consistent direction, unless they really make no difference.  Why?  The federal government has studied how criminally misused guns end up in criminal hands.
As you can see, a strong majority of these guns were obtained by committing felonies: strawman purchases, burglaries, unlicensed gun making,[14]  So why will creating another felony make any difference?
2.      2.  “Requiring a license to own a gun, like a driver’s license.  No one objects to that.”  With a driver’s license issued by any state, I can drive a car in any other state, and the car does not matter.  I can drive a car capable of exceeding the speed limit by a hundred miles per hour (a dangerous criminal offense) or a car with a high capacity gas tank (imagine the hazard of a car with a 80 gallon gas tank in a car crash spilling an explosive fluid around the accident).  I can also fly to any state, buy a car there, and drive it home.  Imagine doing that with a gun license!

3.       3. “Require gun owners to carry insurance to pay for damages caused by their guns.”  Home owners insurance usually covers non-criminal liability and even negligent acts now.[15]  If criminals buy firearms insurance, it won’t cover their criminal actions.

44. “But we require driver’s to have car insurance now.”  And are there uninsured drivers out there?  That’s why police officers ask to see your proof of insurance when they pull you over, and most driver’s carry uninsured motorist coverage.

5.     5.  “Gun owners should be liable for misuse of stolen guns.”  Why?  Are other victims of crimes liable for subsequent criminal use of their property?  If someone steals your chainsaw and re-enacts “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” should the burglary victim be held liable?

6.       6. “Weapons of war are too dangerous because of mass murders.”  USA Today gathered data on mass murders 2006-2010.  Only about 3/4 involved guns (the rest were “stabbing,”, “blunt force,” “Smoke inhalation/burns.” But even in gun mass murders: 72.9% handguns, 18.5% rifles (8.6% semiautomatic rifles); 8.6% shotguns.  And these were the guns carried, not necessarily used by the killer. )   It would make far more sense to ban handguns than semiautomatic rifles, and more sense to ban knives “blunt objects,” and flammable liquids, if the goal is to reduce mass murders.

7.       7. “You say the Second Amendment protects your ‘right’ to own these guns because they might be needed against a tyrannical government.  Do you really think you can defeat the might of the U.S. government?”  You call them “weapons of war” and say that they would therefore not be useful for that?  Which is it.?

8.       8. “Assault weapons are easily converted to full auto.”  But federal law has this covered.

The term ‘machinegun’ means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person. [16]

The courts have ruled that readily convertible means “about an 8-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop.”[17]

9.      9.  “Think of the children killed each year by guns in accidents.”  How many?  In the years 1999-2016, there were 1,163 accidental firearms deaths of children 0-14 or 68 per year.[18]  Each is a tragedy, but 7,181 were killed in vehicle accidents: 422 per year.[19]  Drowning in bathtubs: 1,461, or 85 per year.[20]  Your focus is wrong.

110.   “Why are you leaving out older children?”  The Centers for Disease Control has age categories to 14, and 15-19.  That includes adults and some gang members.  Those are not children in the usual sense of the word.

111.   “Why not ban ‘assault weapons’ and high capacity magazines?  Who needs them?”  Why ban them?  They are seldom criminally misused.  When Congress passed the 1994 ban on new manufacture, the Clinton Administration directed the National Institute of Justice to examine the effects of the new law.  They found a 6.7% reduction in murder rates in the 15 states where the federal ban could have made a difference.  But Roth and Koper also admitted that this reduction was not statistically significant.  Because assault weapons had been used in a tiny percentage of murders before the ban, “it is highly improbable that the assault weapons ban produced an effect this large….”[21]  What about the effects of rapid fire and large capacity magazines?  “The ban did not produce declines in the average number of victims per incident of gun murder or gun murder victims with multiple wounds.”  What about “protecting police officers,” the excuse offered repeatedly for the ban?  There was a decline in assault weapons used to murder police officers, but Roth and Koper also admitted that “such incidents are sufficiently rare” that it impossible to determine whether the law reduced total gun murders of police officers.[22]

[1]Cal. Penal Code §Penal Code §§ 12070 described in SB 950 p. 8, ftp://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/01-02/bill/sen/sb_0901-0950/sb_950_cfa_20010709_110602_asm_comm.html, last accessed February 15, 2016.
[2]Hawaii Rev. Stats. § 134-2 (2012).
[3]430 Ill. Comp. Stats. 65/1 (2013).
[4]Mass. Acts ch. 737 (1968).
[5]N.J. Code Crim. Jus. § 58-3 (2012).
[6]R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-35, 11-47-35.2 (2009).
[7]Md. An. Code § 5-124 (2003); see Md. An. Code § 5-101(p) (2003) for the definition of “regulated firearms”; it includes handguns and a list of so-called “assault weapons.”
[8]Iowa Code § 724.16 (2012).
[9]Mich. Comp. Laws § 28.422 (2011).
[10]Neb. Rev. Stats. § 69-2403 (2010).
[11]N.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.00, 265.20, 270.00, 400.00, 401.00, 405.00 (2012).
[12]N.C. Gen. Stats., Art. 52A, § 14-402 (2011).
[13] Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111 (2009).
[14] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Following the Gun, Enforcing Federal laws Against Firearms Traffickers, June 2000, p. 11, http://www.nfaoa.org/documents/ATF-%20Following%20the%20Gun,%20Enforcing%20Federal%20Laws%20Against%20Firearms%20Traffickers.pdf,
[15] Mocsary, George A., Insuring Against Guns? (May 2014). 46 Connecticut Law Review 1209. 1223 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2511291.
[16]28 USC 5845(b).
[17] U.S. v. Smith, 477 F.2d 399, 400 (8th Cir. 1973).
[18]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December 2017. Data are from the Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 Series 20 No. 2V, 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 27, 2018 11:38:51 AM
[19]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December 2017. Data are from the Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 Series 20 No. 2V, 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 27, 2018 11:51:29 AM
[20]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December 2017. Data are from the Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 Series 20 No. 2V, 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 27, 2018 11:57:28 AM
[21]Jeffrey A. Roth and Christopher S. Koper, “Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban: 1994-96,” NCJ 173405, (Washington: National Institute of Justice, 1999), 1.  You can find this report at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/173405.pdf. 8-9.
[22]Roth and Koper, 9.

 

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