By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
A phrase that’s been bandied about in recent years is “common sense gun reform” or something like that. What people who pitch it like to tell you is that there’s a middle ground between the kind of Draconian restrictions on the Second Amendment that some people advocate for and the more libertarian position of not regulating gun purchases or possession at all.
Conceptually, gun regulations that don’t hinder law-abiding citizens ability to own, carry in a concealed carry holster and so on but keep gun crimes from happening sound like an acceptable compromise, at least to some people.
The problem, of course, is few gun control regulations meet that standard. Most of the “common sense” gun control measures that have either been tried or suggested to date are really anything but.
Let’s start with universal background checks.
On paper, they make sense. Living in a UBC state (Washington) I can tell you firsthand that it’s not that difficult to live with as a practical matter.
That said, there’s a big problem with the idea.
Those laws only affect people who buy their guns legally. And how many violent criminals do so? Very, very few. For instance, a 2015 study that appeared in the Northwestern University Law School’s Journal of Criminology and Law (PDF) found that, based on data from the ATF, the Chicago PD and the authors’ interviews with inmates in the Cook County jail, around 11 percent of overall gun crime is committed using a firearm legally purchased by the user from a dealer. For gang members, 2 percent.
Other studies and surveys have likewise held the same conclusion, though the numbers may differ here and there. Criminals usually don’t get their guns legally. They tend to get them from friends and family, through straw purchases or through the black market.
It can therefore be assumed that only a small number of gun crimes could be thwarted by universal background checks.
Another suggested “common sense” gun reform is reinstituting the “assault weapon” ban.
Yes, yes, I know; they’re not really “assault rifles,” but we can hash out semantics at another time.
According to the 2015 crime report from the FBI, only 252 homicides of the 9,616 homicides reported to the FBI in 2015 were committed with rifles – roughly 2.6 percent. Handguns were far and away more common; almost two-thirds, 6,447 of 9,616, were committed with handguns.
Granted, FBI crime stats need to be taken with some salt. First, there were 2,648 murders committed with a firearm of unknown/unreported type. Second, data is submitted to the FBI voluntarily; many police departments do not.
That said, we can infer that while some highly publicized and obviously terrible crimes are committed with so-called “assault rifles,” very few are in the grand scheme of things.
Additionally, there’s also the fact that criminals who want them have found ways to get them. The Justice Department, for instance.
Next, screening for mental illness. Obviously, keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill is a good thing but there’s a big hurdle in the way.
That would be HIPAA.
Now, a person adjudicated to be violently mentally ill in a court of law already can’t buy firearms. But what about the people who are violently mentally ill but haven’t necessarily entered the court system yet?
Not much to be done there. Patient records, according to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act can’t be disclosed to law enforcement without a court order or a warrant. This is the sticky wicket of the mental health/gun reform issue.
Arguably needed and/or necessary – but there’s not much that will happen there without changing one of the largest pieces of health care legislation that we have.
Good luck with THIS Congress!
Then we have more restrictive concealed carry. While correlation and causality aren’t the same thing, the fact is that more liberal carry laws have coincided with a reduced crime rate. The bloodbath so oft predicted by gun control advocated hasn’t happened and won’t be happening.
Licensed carriers are generally law-abiding citizens, so once again it would be targeting only the law-abiding citizens. Common sense is using laws to curtail illegal activities, not legal ones. Yet for some reason, it’s the latter that seem to be the targets.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.