One of the problems in discussing guns and gun laws is the fact that many people don't know what they're talking about – especially among those advocating for stricter gun laws. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, it's not so much that gun control advocates don't know anything; it's that so much of what they know is wrong.
Let's review some facts about terminology frequently used regarding guns and gun laws.
- There is no such thing as an "assault weapon." Truth be told, marketers and the gun press of the 1980s bear some responsibility for creating and popularizing the term, but then it was picked up by the anti-rights lobby, and they've ridden it for all it's worth. Today it is liberally applied to any gun that someone thinks looks scary or militaristic. Like beauty, "good" art, or pornography, what constitutes "assault weapon" is in the eye of the beholder. So-called "assault weapons" are not machine guns, and the laws restricting "assault weapons" do not apply to machine guns. Nonetheless, folks like Bloomberg, Feinstei, and a multitude of media outlets routinely suggest that the guns they are talking about when they mention "assault weapons" are fully-automatic machine guns.
Before the atrocity at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state of Connecticut had some of the toughest restrictions on "assault weapons" in the country. That law didn't prevent the murders. After the tragedy, the state implemented additional restrictions – none of which would have prevented or mitigated the horror in any way had they been in effect prior to the attack. Similarly, California has strict regulations regarding "assault weapons," but these laws did not prevent or mitigate the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
- There is no "gun show loophole," no "Internet loophole" and no "private transfer loophole." When the Brady Background Check law was negotiated and passed, this issue was raised, and private transfers were specifically and intentionally exempted from the law. That's a feature, not a loophole.A private transfer refers to a firearm sale or trade where neither the buyer nor the seller is in the gun business. Anyone who "engages in the business" of buying and selling guns must be licensed, and all licensees must fill out federal paperwork and submit buyers to background checks before proceeding with any transfers. A regular citizen who wishes to sell his personal property is free to do so, whether that property is a gun or a car, or an exercise bike. A private seller who sells a gun is taking a risk, just as a buyer from a private seller is taking a risk. Unless the buyer and seller know each other pretty well, there is always the chance that the gun could be stolen or defective, or that the buyer might be a prohibited person. That's why it is common practice for private sellers and private buyers to insist on a bill of sale, which includes both the buyer and seller's identity information. That's just common sense. If there were a simple, free system for verifying that a gun is not stolen and to run a background check on a buyer, most private sellers and buyers would take advantage of it, as long as it didn't create a permanent record of the transaction.
But those same private sellers and buyers strongly – and rightly – oppose any scheme requiring that all transfers go through licensed dealers. The reason is the information that is collected and the records that are generated. Those records amount to a government invasion of privacy and are a steppingstone to universal registration. They also know that criminals, who are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms, can simply pay someone with a clean record to buy their guns for them or have a friend do it. Later, the straw buyer can claim the gun was stolen. The only effects of requiring all private transfers to go through licensed dealers would be to add expense and hassle to transfers, and lay the groundwork for a registration system.
It is also important to understand that you can't buy a gun over the Internet. All sales, other than those between licensed dealers, must be conducted in face-to-face transactions. A gun for sale can be advertised over the Internet, but the actual sale must be conducted in person or through licensed dealers.
- More guns do not lead to more crime. Stricter gun control laws do not result in reduced crime, and as gun laws have been liberalized around the country, with millions more people owning millions more guns, and it has become easier to own and carry firearms in more places, crime has gone down. Not only that, crime has generally gone down faster and more significantly in places with the laxest gun laws, while reductions in crime have been minimal to non-existent in places with the most restrictive gun laws.Arizona requires no license or permit to buy, own, or carry a firearm – openly or concealed – has frequent gun shows, has no restrictions on "assault weapons," magazine capacity, or private transfers, and has sheriffs like Maricopa County's Joe Arpaio who encourage citizens to go armed as a deterrent to crime and terrorism. But with all of the guns on the streets of Arizona, and in spite of its proximity to Mexico and the inherent problems associated with cross-border drug and human trafficking, crime in the state has been declining at a faster rate than the national average. Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metro area, has a violent crime rate that is a fraction of more restrictive locales such as Philadelphia, Chicago, or Baltimore.
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The more you know about guns and gun laws, the better you understand how wrong gun laws are. Gun control laws do not and cannot work. When they invariably fail to prevent atrocities or reduce crime, their proponents invariably propose even stricter gun laws. The experiment has failed. Gun control laws are an unconstitutional farce.
Media wishing to interview Jeff Knox, please contact [email protected].