Friday, September 30, 2011

Violence Policy Center Admits Most Gun Control Laws Don't Work

I came across this page on the Violence Policy Center web site and was surpised to read the following:

"Whether at the local, state or federal level, the principal flaw that has plagued legislative efforts has been an almost exclusive focus on over-the-counter sales standards and a mistaken belief that it's possible to separate "good" handguns (those in our hands for self-defense) from "bad" handguns (those in the hands of criminals). Yet as noted earlier, most gun deaths are not crime related. And as the NRA correctly notes, criminals will be the last to obey any gun-control law.

The limitations of such an approach are illustrated by the recently enacted Brady bill. Waiting periods create a cooling-off period between the time a customer buys a gun and the time it may be possessed. In theory, this delay helps stop crimes of passion, and although anecdotal evidence suggests this happens occasionally, most suicides and shootings between friends and family occur with weapons already available.

In theory, background checks increase the chance of identifying those in proscribed categories who attempt to purchase firearms through legal channels. Such laws define the proscribed group as those with a prior felony conviction or deemed mentally unfit, yet such individuals rarely even attempt to buy guns personally from retail outlets.

A second conceptual flaw is the implicit assumption that anyone without a felony record is by definition "law-abiding." Under such systems individuals with arrest records and convictions for serious crimes are able to acquire guns legally because they have never been convicted of a felony. Patrick Purdy, the Stockton schoolyard killer, had a nine-year criminal history replete with weapons violations but could legally purchase a handgun under California law.

Recently, in the wake of the Brady bill's passage, attention has focused on the licensing of handgun owners. Licensing does offer some benefits: The information is useful in tracing weapons; identification of those in proscribed categories attempting to purchase firearms through legal channels is increased; and the application process itself may discourage sales to casual buyers. The limitations of licensing are that such systems are expensive to administer; it would have little effect on most gun violence, such as suicide or shootings between people who know each other; and anyone in a proscribed category desiring a gun could easily find one in the alternative, nonretail marketplace.

And although the most common argument heard in favor of licensing is "We license cars, why not license handguns?" public-health experts note that the licensing of cars had little effect on the death rate associated with autos. It was not until changes were made to the product itself--such as seat belts, air bags and improved structural design--that the number of deaths began to decline."
 Wow.  Let me summarize this:
  1. No such thing as a "good" or a "bad" handgun.  Assigning moral values to objects is a mistake.
  2. Waiting periods do not perform their intended task.
  3. Prohibited persons rarely make gun purchases from retail dealers, so background checks are useless.
  4. People with arrest records and violent misdemeanors should be prohibited from purchasing.
  5. Licensing schemes will not have a large effect on firearms violence.
  6. Only changes to the dangerous product itself can have an effect on the resultant violence.
Points 1, 2, 3, and 5 seem to show that VPC as of 1998, the copyright date of this document, have given up on the staples of gun control: licensing, and other purchase limitations.  Points 4, and 6 seem to telegraph what has happened since that time: more and more misdemeanor violent convictions result in prohibited status of individuals, and we have seen increasing ploys to dictate changes in gun manufacture, such as owner authorized handgun technology, micro-stamping, and ammunition serialization.

We also see the same old trend in the gun control side: the idea that controlling an object will have an effect on the actions of people: gun violence.  They do not seem to understand that if guns disappeared, gun violence would simply be converted into "knife violence", or "fist violence" or "bludgeon violence".

We have more guns, handgun and long guns, in this country than ever, but violent crime has been dropping every year. If VPC's logic was correct, we should be seeing an epidemic of gun violence, but despite the preaching of Joan Peterson, this is not happening.  

What is VPC trying to eliminate now?  Public carry of firearms by law abiding citizens.  They have clumsily telegraphed their intentions, but we need to stay vigilant. I think that the gun-rights community is on the offensive, and the sheer numbers of us will be telling in any election.  If I take the VPC claim that the 160 persons are actually valid carry permit holders convicted of gun crimes, then that means 6,140,646 carry permit holders have not committed any crimes.

That kind of makes the Violence Policy Center look pretty pathetic, doesn't it?

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