Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ineffectiveness of gun control

Weapons are easily obtainable, apparently more easier to acquire illegally than legally. For instance police seized "a double barrel shotgun, a pistol grip shotgun, a 9mm Mac-10, and three .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns" from a 17 year old. "Four of the firearms had been reported stolen in old burglaries. One was taken in burglary as far back as 1999." [Guns and drugs seized from North Portland teen, police say].

Gun control laws have little effect on illegal acquisition of weapons. The Oregonian does little to explain whether this teenager acquired the guns via burglaries or through an illegal marketplace or both. Nor do we know his intended use. Was he expecting to use the weapons for himself - future crimes - or was he just part of a marketing and distributing chain?

As long as guns are available illegally, they will be used to commit crimes. Not that some better control of weapons, especially those particularly lethal weapons, isn't necessary. However, those advocating gun control appear to be in fact seeking a total ban by their enumeration of  circumstances where guns ought to be banned. E.g., see Brady Campaign.

But the impetus to ban guns more often than not arises from situations other than ordinary crime. Not much is made of the near-daily gang shootings, but those nearly one-off incidents of mass shootings, workplace shootings, murder-suicide, etc. gets the attention of the gun control advocates.

We shouldn't be led into the myth that gun control laws will necessarily mean safer communities. Part of the problem is that we, as a country, state, city, don't live in isolation, i.e., illegal weapons are imported from other countries, and states.

Only a fool believes that guns can be totally banned in the US, or anywhere for that matter. Over all, the United States is the world’s biggest market for civilian guns. See my post The world of guns and more guns. See too this New York Times story: A Kalashnikov Factory in Russia Survives on Sales to U.S. Gun Owners.

Interesting too is that an attempt to trace guns used in the commission of crimes has failed, completely, in New York. After many millions of dollars and a decade of effort NY is ending state ballistics ID system for feds. The rationale that ended the program is found in the New York Senate Bill S459-2011 - NY Senate Open Legislation - Repeals pistol and revolver ballistic identification databank:
"It is the conclusion of two studies by the California Department of Justice conducted two years ago and a 2004 study conducted by the Maryland State Police that the ballistic database systems in these states are a waste of time, money and manpower. The Maryland report cited the complete failure of the New York Combined Ballistic Identification System (CoBIS) to produce a single "hit" on a gun crime as complete failure of that system. The CoBIS system is costing taxpayers approximately $4 million per year and it is a certainty that the State Police could find a better use for those millions."
The fact that also live in a society where the dollar bottom line is dominant cannot be discounted as a primary factor. A question never arises as to who it is that economically benefits from manufacture and distribution of weapons. Granted it is a complex political, social, and economic issue, but ignoring it only exacerbates the problem.

Deterrence would seem to be the only correct and rational approach.