New Gun Crime Numbers Are Bad News for Gun Control Lobby
Earlier this month, the Department of Justice published updated numbers on how guns used and found at the scenes of state and federal crimes were obtained. Americans will be shocked to know that criminals still don’t like to follow gun laws. A survey released this month by the Department found that the vast majority of armed criminals serving time obtained their guns on the street or via other means.
The nationwide survey of 1.37 million inmates, titled, “Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016,” shows fewer than 3% of prisoners who used guns in crime acquired those guns at retail stores or at a gun show.
Of those 256,400 prisoners, some 43%, said they obtained their guns from illicit “street” sources such as other criminals, often by bartering stolen goods or drugs.
When it came to retail sources such as gun shows, flea markets, firearm stores, and pawn shops, only about 10% said they were able to obtain their weapons from such outlets through purchases or trades. Of those, the majority reported that a background check was conducted as part of the sale, although in many cases they did not purchase it under their own name.
Here’s what the DOJ found:
● Among the prisoners who had a firearm when they committed their crimes, 90% did not get their gun from a retail source, and less than 1% got theirs at a gun show.
● Only 7% of state and 8% of federal prisoners “had purchased it under their own name from a licensed firearm dealer at a retail source.”
● About one fifth of those who possessed a gun during their offenses bought it with the intention of committing the crime.
● A plurality of prisoners, 43.2%, got their guns off of the black market, off the street, or through theft.; 25.3% got the gun from a family member or friend, either through purchase, rental, trade, or as a gift; 6.9% said they found the gun at the scene of the crime, and 4.6% said the gun was brought by someone else.
Firearms industry insiders with the National Shooting Sports Foundation said the news comes as no surprise, as they have long noted the steady decline in the number of firearms sourced from gun retailers used by criminals. The number of guns possessed by state inmates declined permanently since 1991 (21%), with 14% in 1997 and 10% in 2016.
“While the latest survey covers federal inmates as well, our chart above compares only the state inmate data, which has been a consistent metric over time,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president of government and public Affairs and general. “This apples-to-apples comparison reveals that only 10% of criminals obtained their firearm from a retailer. Of that small and declining share, the survey shows that about 7% of inmates used their own names when purchasing a firearm from a retailer.”
Drawing lessons from the data, Keane pointed out that the survey has “consistently shown that there is no such thing as criminals exploiting a ‘gun show loophole’ to arm themselves for their crimes. Perhaps lawmakers should spend less time on these ‘solutions in search of a problem’ and more time on fixing the background check system, or on any of the issues that voters actually rank as a priority.”
These numbers will come as little surprise to Second Amendment advocates who are well aware that gun control laws only keep guns out of the hands of those willing to abide by them.
The vast majority of all criminals – 56% – stole their guns, acquired them at the scene of a crime, or got them via the black market.
This information undercuts Democrat claims that expanding background checks will keep us safer. Politico quoted Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) saying universal background check legislation “will help save lives.” But how will it save lives if less than 3% of criminals acquire their guns at retail or gun show while the vast majority steal or otherwise acquire them on the side?