Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The 0.8% Solution

President Obama is "doing something" today to make "America safer from gun violence".  The President is using executive action in "closing the gun show loophole" by expanding the number of vendors who would have to conduct background checks on buyers.  It's meant to better define who is a gun "collector" who might sell off a few pieces every year--and someone who buys guns just for the purpose of reselling them at a profit.

While the President may think they he is "doing something" about gun crime, the numbers themselves show that he is doing next to nothing.  A study by the President's own Department of Justice in 2013 found that gun show purchases accounted for 0.8% of all weapons used in the commission of crimes.  That study found that 40% of criminals purchased their guns off the streets (25% percent from drug dealers).  Another 37% got or stole their guns from friends or family members who legally purchased them.  Seven percent of criminals that used guns purchased them legally at retail outlets--meaning they passed required background checks to buy the firearm--or they had someone who could pass a background check do a "straw buy" for them.  Three percent purchased their guns from pawn shops--and the less than one-percent of criminals got their guns from gun shows.

While President Obama may say that "doing something" about the gun show loophole is the only course of action he can take through executive action--he certainly had other avenues to combat gun violence.  I was hoping that his meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch yesterday would result in an executive order to have the DOJ actually crackdown on illegal gun ownership--including weapons sweeps targeting felons (who are not allowed to possess firearms) and the encouragement of prosecutors to file illegal weapons charges in all cases where felons are using illegal guns--followed by judges treating weapons violations more seriously in sentencing.  But alas, that was not at all a priority of the President or the AG.

Part of that is likely due to the fact that "doing something" like a "gun sweep" would not target the "right kind of people".  Knowing what we know about gun crimes and violence, a crackdown on illegal weapons possession and use would put more young African-American males behind bars for a longer time.  And for a President and a political party espousing a platform of opposing "mass incarceration" of those who actually break the law--actually getting guns out of the hands of criminals doesn't play well with the base.

But "doing something" about buying a gun at a gun show inconveniences the "right kind of people".  The people who tend to be conservative and vote Republican because of a strong belief in Second Amendment rights.  It also sends a message to the National Rifle Association who is the "boss".

I know we will all rest a little bit easier tonight knowing that President Obama has made us 0.8% safer.

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