Friday, June 1, 2012

The Four Major Ways Criminals Get Guns

Everyone agrees criminals should not have guns. Yet, the reality seems to be that they have practically unlimited access to them. It would be better for everyone if somehow we could deny them access. But how?

First we need to identify the ways in which they currently do come into possession of weapons. We'll eliminate one common fallacy right away, that criminals get guns from other criminals.  This may be true as far as it goes, but it doesn't help us in our analysis.  We're interested in the original source of guns that are used in crime. If, for example, a gun is stolen during a burglary and passed from criminal to criminal before being used in a murder, that gun came from "Theft," which is one of our main categories.

The entire exercise is based on the presumption that nearly all guns start out as the lawful property of someone. The exceptions to this, home-made weapons and those imported from overseas, are insignificant in number.  Our interest is the exact point at which a gun passes from lawful ownership into criminal hands.

The four categories are these.

1. Straw purchases. Gun traffickers recruit people with clean records who, depending on the state in which they live, can buy numerous guns and turn them over immediately to their criminal bosses. Other straw purchasers are of the amateur kind, the one-off kind, but regardless of the type there is a solution.

2. Theft. Most of this is done in private homes one gun at a time, or if the thieves are lucky several guns. For this there is an obvious solution. Other theft is done at military armories, gun manufacturers and gun shops, all of which require some failure on the part of the lawful custodian of the weapons.

3. Private sales. This is the one often referred to as the "gun show loophole." The reality is that private sales of guns account for about 40% of all gun sales and do not require a background check.  The solution.


4. Lawful gun owners who turn bad. Many of these guys are what I call "hidden criminals."  These are the ones who engage in unlawful activity but have never sustained a disqualifying felony.  They buy and own guns legally just like your truly lawful gun owners.  Others are upstanding members of society right up until the point they lose it and either kill the wife with a gun or shoot up the work place.  We read about them every day. Some of them could be identified through drug testing, others by improved mental health background checks.

The four categories are listed in descending order, the most easily addressed to the most difficult. Straw purchasing could be practically eradicated with the solution I've outlined, while lawful gun owners who turn bad is much harder to address.

But, although gun-rights folks keep saying we have onerous gun control laws which infringe upon their rights, the truth is we have done very little to curtail the terrible problem of gun flow from the good guys to the bad guys.

This must change.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.

24 comments:

  1. it is nice to know that rational people are thinking about this problem and someday our country will come out of the middle ages and join civilization.....

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    1. I'm hoping for major improvement during Obama's second term.

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    2. Don't count on it. Let's imagine that he wins, even though it'll take a stretch to do it. The Senate will still be narrowly divided, so nothing that you want will pass. Obama may put a couple of bad judges on the Supreme Court, but then the House and Senate will write legislation giving us more and more gun rights to compensate.

      You're fighting a losing battle here.

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    3. And you're whistling in the dark, Greg.

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    4. No, I'm lighting a candle.

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  2. My opinion? Hell no. Licensing and registration are necessary steps in confiscation and banning. The scheme that you described on the other page would be a bureaucratic nightmare.

    But substitute cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana for gun in your third paragraph, and you'll see why this will never work.

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    1. Greg, a good SAT test question:

      Which one of the following does not belong?

      gun, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana

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    2. Depends on the name of the category. Items that can be easily concealed and smuggled? No answer.

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  3. At the end of the day you are trying to stop a free person from physically obtaining a legal product. Think about that for a minute.

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    1. Ah, but you're forgetting that to someone who obsesses about control, freedom is anathema. Of course, so is being a fully realized person, since the two go together.

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    2. By "free person," I suppose you mean mentally ill folks and hidden criminals, as well as people who supply guns to criminals.

      This is interesting, I've long suggested there's a fine line between lawful gun owners and criminal gun owners.

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    3. Do you believe in democracy? There's a fine line between lawful and criminal or insane in every category of life, but in America, we accept the principle that the people have the right to govern their own affairs and to make choices about their lives. If you accept that, you can't go around taking away rights because you think someone might do something wrong.

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    4. By “free person” I mean someone who is not incarcerated, or under surveillance- regardless of whether they are a law abiding citizen, mentally ill, a suspected criminal, a hidden criminal, or a convicted criminal who is done serving their term. This are people who society lets walk among all the other citizens as free people and whose actions can not be controlled.

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    5. We take away gun rights when people DO something wrong. We just have to re-define what that is. You know what I think.

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  4. 1: The ATF says 8.5% of guns used in crimes come from Straw purchases. This isn't a significant source.

    2: If I steal you car and run somebody over with it, who's at fault, me or you?

    3: If I sell you a car, I'm not required to check your driving record, even though you could have had 15 DUIs last month.

    4: So are all criminals either on Drugs or Insane? Are most? What percentage are? Loughner had no documented history of mental health problems, how do you discover, through a background check, what isn't documented?

    5: You forgot illegal smuggling and illegal manufacture. But leaving off the sources that you don't have an "easy" fix for is kind of par for the course with you.

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    1. This is great! I am actually going to use some of this in a bill hearing tomorrow! Thank you! =)

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    2. Thanks for that! I may end up using some of that for a bill hearing tomorrow in Washington!

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  5. Another shining example of Mikeb and his support for the anti-self defense movement. All gun owners are criminals until they prove they aren't, over and over and over. How about, just once, you not side with the criminals and actually propose something that will be tough on crime instead of lawful gun owners?

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    1. Is it siding with the criminals when I point out that there is ALWAYS a so-called lawful gun owner involved in the gun flow.

      Facts is facts, man.

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  6. I agree with shoring up the straw, gun show and "private party" loopholes, those are just retarded IMO. I didn't even realize some of those existed until I saw a vanguard program several months back...an especially huge issue with our border states to Mexico...but you're not going to stop the #4 perp without taking guns away from law abiding, good people.

    Drug testing? So what, if someone comes up with a little THC in their system, they shouldn't be allowed to own guns? Mental health checks, yes, but how do you define your drug testing plan and how is that going to be interpreted/enforced? I think that's a bit too far.

    I've been known to have blood that would fail a drug test...and I own AR15's, shotguns, glocks - all of the stuff the Aurora shooter used. I'd never hurt an innocent person...by hand or by gun (unless they were trying to kill me or my family). I'm a kind man by nature but I enjoy collecting, repairing/upgrading and shooting guns.

    You can't solve all of it Mike. I already deal with the strictest gun laws in the country (for the most part). If you're campaigning to further restrict my access due to the occasional nut-job, then we've got a problem.

    MotoJB
    TTAG

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    1. You sound like a pretty reasonable and responsible guy. Thanks for visiting.

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  7. We all have seen how well gun bans work? THEY DON'T...
    Many guns obtained by criminals who ignore laws anyway usually come in the same why all the drugs do..
    The MAIN reason the 2nd amendment of this countries constitution has the right to keep and bear arms is to be able - Law abiding citizens to protect ourselves from an oppressive government; which is and has become more and more oppressive as the years go by..
    We keep reading about all the increasing heinous acts of killings by POS everyday now. Has anyone really looked without all the emotion as to why they pick the places they do their killings at? I have and it is where the victims are most likely to NOT be carrying a gun..
    The outcomes of these incidents could most likely been allot different if there had been an off duty Law Enforcement/security or even a LEGALLY ARMED CITIZEN trained in the use of their weapon at these locations..
    We also have read the fantastic outcome when this has happened ( Legally armed ) individuals HAVE BEEN PRESENT at an active shooter location and stopped it..

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  8. "Is it siding with the criminals when I point out that there is ALWAYS a so-called lawful gun owner involved in the gun flow." You just have to be kidding, Mike.

    That would hold true for nearly everything but hands and feet used in murder.

    So if my hatchet is stolen from my wood pile and used to murder someone that would be my responsibility? You folks seem to think that guns equal crime. People equal crime, Mike. No object kills by intent. A nature disaster might get you, outlaw everything natural. LOL You crack me up.

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