By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
In their never-ending effort to restrict law-abiding Americans’ access to firearms, the anti-gun establishment will do just about anything. In recent weeks they have shown a willingness to use a tragedy to score political points and misrepresent their true aims to gain supporters.
One of the anti-gun lobby’s leading arguments is that fewer guns equals less violence. This seems like a logical argument, and is often passed on as fact. But, as with most of the arguments the anti-gun left recycles over and over, the facts simply do not back it up.
In the fall issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons , Jane M. Orient, M.D. argues there is no evidence-based support for more gun control measures. Rather, the statistics gun-control proponents cite are cherry-picked from larger data sets that show no correlation between more gun laws and less violence.
And unlike those trying to curb the Second Amendment, Dr. Orient has the facts squarely on her side. Since 1993, homicides with firearms and other crimes with firearms are down significantly (39 and 69 percent, respectively). Using the gun-control line of thinking, one would expect there to be significantly fewer firearms now than in 1993. Nothing could be further from the truth. That period of decreased violence actually corresponds with a substantial increase in the number of guns owned by Americans.
It seems clear, then, that those interested in reducing criminal violence – as we all should be – would be better served not by passing new laws to restrict access to firearms for law-abiding citizens, but by enforcing the laws already on the books.
One example of a gun regulation in place that needs better enforcement actually goes back to 1968 – the Gun Control Act itself, which created the categories of persons who are disqualified from gun ownership. Those prohibitions are implemented through the National Instant Criminal Background Check system, and the database upon which it relies is riddled with holes as a result of states not submitting the necessary records to the database. While states like Pennsylvania and California are exceptional in their compliance rates (submitting more than 620,000 and 529,000 records respectively), others make a mockery of the system. Rhode Island has not submitted a single record. Massachusetts, Alaska, Hawaii and North Dakota have submitted just one each. These holes are a major reason why the gun industry is leading the charge to Fix NICS and reduce criminal violence.
Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.