The gun control study that really happened and you never saw

The great conservative pundit Iowahawk is has a great quote about the state of modern media.

This is one of those.  It is a study on guns that the Washington Post covered and I’ve seen nowhere else.

New evidence confirms what gun rights advocates have said for a long time about crime

Yes, that is the actual title.  I’m surprised nobody’s been fired for it and the article memory holed.

Lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of all gun crimes, according to a novel analysis released this weekby the University of Pittsburgh.

In the study, led by epidemiologist Anthony Fabio of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, researchers partnered with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to trace the origins of all 893 firearms that police recovered from crime scenes in the year 2008.

I like how they put that: Perpetrator was carrying a firearm owned by someone else.

That shows you just how pervasive media spin is.  That category is stolen or straw purchased guns.

They found that in approximately 8 out of 10 cases, the perpetrator was not a lawful gun owner but rather in illegal possession of a weapon that belonged to someone else. The researchers were primarily interested in how these guns made their way from a legal purchase — at a firearm dealer or via a private sale — to the scene of the crime.

“All guns start out as legal guns,” Fabio said in an interview. But a “huge number of them” move into illegal hands. “As a public-health person, I’d like to be able to figure out that path,” he added.

That’s good news for us.  The take away is proof that all the gun control ideas that the Left can come up with that restrict the rights of law abiding citizens will barely make a dent in the homicide rate.  Of course we all knew that but it’s nice to finally have evidence in an academic study.

Still, anything positive for us has to be minimized.

More than 30 percent of the guns that ended up at crime scenes had been stolen, according to Fabio’s research. But more than 40 percent of those stolen guns weren’t reported by the owners as stolen until after police contacted them when the gun was used in a crime.

I suspect that these are a lot of “I bought one gun for personal protection and hid it in my closet and forgot about it for years” gun owners.  Don’t be one of those people.

One of the more concerning findings in the study was that for the majority of guns recovered (62 percent), “the place where the owner lost possession of the firearm was unknown.”

That seems oddly suspicious.  I’m thinking the percentage of straw purchasers is higher than anybody suspects.

“We have a lot of people with a lot of guns,” Fabio said, referencing statistics on the large number of guns in circulation. “And some of them aren’t keeping track of them for different reasons — maybe because they have a lot of them and they don’t use them that often.”

Lock your guns up when you are not using them.  A cheap safe isn’t a safe.  Write down your serial numbers and store that information somewhere else.

A number of factors could lead to legal firearms entering the black market. Owners could misplace them, or they could be stolen — either through carelessness on the owner’s part (leaving a gun in an unlocked car, for instance) or determination on the part of thieves.

It’s also likely that many guns on the black market got there via straw purchases — where a person purchases a gun from a dealer without disclosing that they’re buying it for someone else. This is illegal under federal law. One potential sign that straw purchasing is a factor in the Pittsburgh data: Forty-four percent of the gun owners who were identified in 2008 did not respond to police attempts to contact them.

I’m thinking a lot of those “I lost my gun and I don’t know where I lost it” people might be straw purchasers.

The top-line finding of the study — that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes aren’t committed by lawful gun owners — reinforces a common refrain among gun rights advocacy groups. They argue that since criminals don’t follow laws, new regulations on gun ownership would only serve to burden lawful owners while doing little to combat crime.

There is always a “but” to counter the positive.

But Fabio’s research suggests that this strict dichotomy between “good guys” and “bad guys” isn’t necessarily helpful for figuring out how to keep “good” guns — those purchased legally — from getting into “bad” hands. And there may be modest, non-burdensome ways to help keep guns in the hands of the good guys.

“The good guys don’t commit the murders but we don’t know who the good guys are so we’re going to assume everyone is a bad guy so we still need more gun control.”

For instance, 10 states plus the District of Columbia have laws in place requiring gun owners to report the theft or loss of firearms to law enforcement, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that advocates for stronger firearm regulations. But in the majority of states, no such law is in place.

If my guns were stolen, I’d report it right away.  The problem is that these laws in a place like DC usually get turned into a way for the city to prosecute the gun owner rather than catch the criminal.

DC resident: “I’d like to report my guns got stolen”
DC Cop: “Guns, but your permit is for one gun.”
DC resident: “I meant gun.”
DC Cop: “You have the right to remain silent…”

Additionally, past research has demonstrated that a small fraction of gun dealers are responsible for the majority of guns used in crimes in the United States. A 2000 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found that in 1998, more than 85 percent of gun dealers had no guns used in crimes trace back to them. By contrast, 1 percent of dealers accounted for nearly 6 in 10 crime gun traces that year.

Sounds like the ATF isn’t doing their job well.  This is my shocked face.

The firearms bureau knows exactly who these gun dealers are — but they’re not allowed to share that information with policymakers or researchers due to a law passed by Congress in 2003. As a result, solutions for stanching the flow of guns from these dealers to crime scenes remain frustratingly out of reach for public-health researchers.

“There’s not much federal funding out there to do research on firearm and firearm safety,” Fabio said. As a result, “there’s not a lot of good research out there. The process of getting it done has been hindered by a lot of limits on academics and how they can do firearms research.”

You mean the goverment won’t let “public heath advocated” do a run-around of the Second Amendment, imposing gun control as bureaucrat fiats the way they do in health care.

In the meantime, researchers have to be creative — like partnering with local law enforcement agencies to find answers to their questions.

We’re so sorry that you have to work to get results.

You can tell that the people who did this study and the WaPo writer who reported on it didn’t like the outcome.

It proves what the NRA has been saying all along is right.  The vast majority of gun owners are responsible law abiding people who are no harm to anyone.  The majority of murderers are already criminals, and there is a small percentage of people – straw purchasers or bad dealers – that enable them.

Go after the bad dealers and straw purchasers.  That would go a long way in reducing gun crime.  That isn’t a justification for blanket gun bans or gun control.

No wonder this study got no coverage.

16 Replies to “The gun control study that really happened and you never saw”

  1. You left out another factor attributing to “Perpetrators carrying firearms owned by someone else” – the ol’ Smash and Grabs that have been plaguing gun shops across the country.

    1. In Chicago the gangs rob train cars carrying guns. I wonder if those fall into the “owner doesn’t know they lost it” category.

  2. “No wonder this study got no coverage.”

    It goes against the proggies narrative, so of course it was swept out the door, stomped flat, set on fire and buried 10 ft deep. It’s what they do.

  3. A couple of observations.

    1. “All guns start out as legally owned guns” translates into “we should make sure there are NO legally owned guns”. So no, that observation doesn’t blow away the arguments of the disarmers, just the opposite — it allows them to argue that if only they could disarm us, the pipeline of illegal guns will dry up. (Fortunately, the work of Cody Wilson has defeated that line of reasoning.)

    2. A substantial fraction of guns owners did not respond to police queries — probably because they figured there was no upside to talking and only a possible downside. The police are part of the government, and much of the government wants to take our guns — tell me again why I should discuss my guns with any policeman absent a warrant?

  4. And what is the percentage of guns that are legally owned and never involved in a crime?

    99.98%? . . . . That is my guess.


    As to the gun dealsrs that are responsible for a high percentage of illegal guns, could they be chains like Walmart, Sears, Cabelas, Academy, etc.? The ones that sell a high percentage of the guns ever sold.

    1. I can’t comment on that but there was a gun store outside of Plainfield that a lot of Chicago crime guns were traced to.

      They were busted in a sting operation.

      The owner would let criminals drag in anybody with a FOID to buy a gun. The owner knowingly let straw purchases happen for a price.

    2. The tracing system only identifies the dealer of first retail sale. Browse any typical gun shop and you will see as many used guns offered as new guns. I strongly suspect that new guns are largely sold via large volume dealers who can negotiate discounts with distributors on volume, then sell at first-retail at very competitive prices. Buyers buy these guns new; shoot them a while; then trade-in at a neighborhood gun shop for something else. A straw-buyer buys the used gun at a neighborhood gun shop knowing that he’s unlikely to be discovered on a trace. Still less likely if the used gun has been traded-in/resold several times.

      Also, look a the volume of sales through etc. These guns sell via interstate dealers with all the prescribed paperwork. And, guns are likely to move from Florida to Alaska as well as New Mexico to Maine in such transactions rendering the data on the flow of traced guns much less meaningful.

      Finally, people building GlockAlike guns are becoming popular. One can buy a parts kit including ALL the parts for a Glock (genuine Glock manufactured parts) except – of course – the frame. I expect a “wash”-buyer industry to develop. A “straw-buyer” buys up as many G-19’s as he can find, stripping all the parts off the frame. The used Glock will cost the same – or less – than the parts kit. Now, the parts kit goes to a clandestine manufacturer who assembles the parts kit onto a GlockAlike frame produced from an 80% frame that has been finished. (Or, from a frame illegally manufactured in a machine shop.) Now, you have an unmarked gun made of all-but-1 Glock parts that is perfectly merchantable in the black market. Not much more work than grinding off the serial number; but, it comes without the additional crime of possession of a gun with a defaced serial number.

      The whole proposition of gun-control at point-of-sale is just about dead. It can’t survive more than another 5 – 10 years before it begins to smell.

      If our society has any intention of enforcing gun-control it must be via enforcement of felon-in-posession. You have the possessor; you have the gun. You can discover the possessor is a prohibited-person. This is a slam-dunk crime to prosecute and convict on. However, it puts another male minority youth behind bars – and, it is precisely THAT which our society can’t tolerate. So, felon-in-posesion will continue to be the gun-crime that is soft-peddled.

      There is no gun-control that could work and that is acceptable socially and politically. Something huge has to give. It’s not going to be a drying-up of the lawful gun culture.

    1. At least from my understanding is that in Chicago they were more interested in getting a conviction on the dealers than just yanking their FFL and putting them out of business. So they allowed more guns to flow onto the streets that they could use as evidence.

      The other theory is “operation fast and furious the local gun store version.”

      Either way, I know the store doesn’t exist anymore.

  5. There are several problems with this study. Or it may simply be the Post coverage:

    1. How many of the “gun crimes” were non violent process crimes, such as carrying a gun without a license?

    2. The implication on gun stores that have lots of guns turn up in criminal hands is that they do this deliberately. The fact is these are very large gun stores that are next to urban centers with very large crime rates. Many of their customer’s guns are stolen; many people are one time purchasers who then sell or give their guns to criminals. The “few gun stores are the source of large numbers of crime guns” is simply a statistical artifact. The BATFE actually watches those stores and monitors them more than other stores.

    3. All guns do *not* start out as legal guns. A significant percentage of guns are made by criminals for criminals. Most illegal small shop or homemade guns are never counted in statistics because they do not fit into common categories. At one point, 20% of the guns confiscated in D.C. were homemade. Small shop or homemade submachine guns are a common problem in many countries with harsh restrictions on gun ownership.

    4. The laws that demand stolen or lost guns be reported to the police by law are part of a strategy to insure that only guns registered with the government are legal. Part of this strategy is to make people liable for crimes committed if their gun is stolen.

  6. Must I lock up my chainsaw too? How about my kitchen knives? How dipshitty insane must I get in securing my gasoline cans and flammable solvents against theft lest they be used in arsons and I held responsible?

    For what reason do I never ever find any “studies” on where or how someone obtained a knife as a murder weapon?

    For what reason will you never see a “report” that focuses on the dealer from which a car was purchased before being used in a vehicular homocide? Why will you never see the phrase, “All cars start out as legal cars” or “All matches start out as legal matches”?

    The point is, we’ve all been participating in an insanity designed for us, and fed to us, by our enemies. Stop it.

    1. good point lyle, i also think that all these video games that our young children are playing is giving them a boost in the wrong direction, almost all are about car chasing,shooting and killing,stealing etc, but they never show these kids the penalties for these crimes. i think our society is letting young kids do as they please and not giving the guidence that they need to get them on the right path when they are young and probly have never even watched one of their video games. i think there needs to be something done to control the contents of the games soon, kids nowdays are staring into the screen of a tv, computer, phone or video game most of the day. Wake Up America !

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