Another mass shooting happens. Politicians call for gun bans with heated words, and much of the American public says "no".
Mass shootings are certainly not a normal thing. They shouldn't be disregarded as "part of American life". Of course something should be done about it.
The only problem is this: The gun control politicians call for will do nothing to stop gun violence. Most restrictive laws that has been proposed thus far - assault weapons bans, magazine restrictions, ammo restrictions, and much more - won't stop criminals from carrying out public shootings.
The data overwhelmingly supports this claims. Today, we're examining that data.
Criminals (Really) Don't Obey Gun Laws
That fact has been declared by Second Amendment supporters almost as frequently as politicians have claimed gun control works. It's a tiring, repetitive statement, to be sure.
But it's dead true.
To finally, factually, and permanently put the argument that conventional gun control will stop mass shootings and gun violence to rest, let's look at the state of Illinois.
Illinois is a Supposedly "Gun-Safe" ...
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence gives the state of Illinois a B+ rating on gun violence and overall supposed firearm safety.
The highest rating the Giffords Center can give any state is an A. Those in favor of more gun control would have you believe that Illinois is a relatively safe place, that this particular state sees few mass shootings because its draconian gun laws work quite well.
That is patently false.
The state of Illinois has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country. To even purchase a firearm, you must apply for a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) Card, issued by the Illinois State Police. Obtaining an FOID means submitting to an extensive background check, meeting all these requirements, and providing written and photo ID.
Those who want a Concealed Carry Permit must submit to 16 hours of formal weapons training. Permits aren't shall-issue. The state can refuse any application "based upon a reasonable suspicion that the applicant is a danger to himself or herself or others, or a threat to public safety". Open carry is also prohibited. It's nearly impossible to carry a weapon outside one's home legally in Illinois.
In short, one must interact with the state police extensively and receive a government-issued ID backed by extensive tracking to even purchase a firearm in Illinois. That sounds like a pretty well-established, far-reaching set of gun laws, right?
Illinois should be a gun-safe state, free of shootings and crime.
... Except It's Really Not.
A recent scholarly study ( The Last Link: from Gun Acquisition to Criminal Use) was conducted by Dr. Philip J. Cook of Duke University. The purpose of the study was to discover how, in such a gun-restrictive state, criminals were getting their hands on firearms.
Cook and his co-authors surveyed 221 people convicted of firearm-related offenses in Chicago and incarcerated in state prisons about the gun they had at the time of their crime.
"Guns that are used in crime and recovered by the police typically have changed hands often since first retail sale and are quite old. While there is an extensive literature on “time to crime” for guns, defined as the elapsed time from first retail sale to known use in a crime, there is little information available on the duration of the “last link”—the elapsed time from the transaction that actually provided the offender with the gun in question."
What the study found was damning for Illinois and the greater argument of gun control:
“More than two-thirds of the men obtained their primary gun within the last six months of their arrest (68%), while 19.3% possessed their gun for five or fewer days. Almost a quarter of respondents (22.6%) had never owned a gun six months before their current arrest. Of those who had, a majority acquired their primary gun—the one they possessed during their arrest—through a purchase or trade (54.3%) and from a friend or acquaintance (56.9%).”
In other words, while the lengthy list of gun control laws in Illinois and Chicago ensured the subjects’ behavior was illegal, it did nothing to actually prevent that behavior.
Driving the final nail in the coffin was the study's primary finding:
"The CIS respondents were almost all barred from purchasing a gun from a gun store because of their prior criminal record—as a result, their guns were obtained by illegal transactions with friends, relatives, and the underground market.”
Gun Bans Won't Work
Cook's study of Illinois gun crimes speaks an inconvenient truth that anti-gun advocates will never be able to refute: Even with laws in place that severely restrict law-abiding Americans' access to the Second Amendment (to include literally "licensing" that access on a case-by-case basis), guns have, do, and always will fall in the hands of criminals.
Banning guns will not stop this violence.
The study reiterates that the weapons used in gun crimes in Illinois were almost all purchased illegally. The United States has over 857,000,000 (that's 857 million) firearms in circulation. That's 120 guns for every 100 people. In fact, America now owns nearly half the world's guns (about 46%). That includes other nation's militaries. And each year, Americans buy up another 14 million new and imported firearms.
Guns are not going away in America, ever. And if they're not ever going way, they will always be made available for sale. Legally, or illegally.
So, how do anti-gun advocates plan to effectively eliminate gun violence with these revelations? To date, no politicians, agency, or advocate has provided a solution. The only false solutions provided have been gun bans.
Chicago Had So Many Shootings, a Hospital Turned Patients Away
Just last August, 7 people were killed and 46 people were injured by gun violence in a single weekend in Chicago. So many victims were taken by gun violence in the supposed "gun-safe" city that a hospital briefly had to stop taking new patients.
Americans Don't Want to Ban Guns, Anyway
A majority of Americans don't want to ban AR-15s or semiautomatic rifles, anyway. Recent studies say so. The court of public opinion is apparently more informed than anti-gun advocates, because the general public's opinion matches up well with what all this data illustrates.
Not convinced? Here's more data: Mass shootings account for less than 1% of firearms deaths in the U.S., and the U.S. itself accounts for just 1% of all mass shootings, globally.
Still not convinced? The FBI Crime Lab says that in 2017, approximately 15,129 people were murdered by another person with a weapon of some kind. Of those murders, just 403 were found to have been committed with a rifle. The type of rifle isn't specified, but the figure works out to just 2.66%. This figure didn't change much between 2013 and 2017, either.
Considering that on average, less than 3% of all murders are committed with a rifle (and considering the AR-15 is the most-sold firearm in America with over 16 million in circulation), it's little wonder why most Americans aren't in favor of more gun bans.
By the way, 403 murders out of 16,000,000 rifles equates to a crime rate of 0.002%.
So, when will politicians start proposing useful ways to end gun violence?
Gun bans obviously aren't the answer. That's a fact.