Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Study Links Lax State Gun Control To Gun Trafficking In Surrounding States

Pro-gun forces discount the effect of gun control laws in reducing crime. A recent study challenged that position, linking states that have lax gun control laws with trafficking in guns that are used to commit crimes in surrounding states. The study also suggests that a state's comparatively stronger gun control laws are weakened by states that are more permissive:

A study due to be released this week by a coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns uses previously unavailable federal gun data to identify what it says are the states that most often export guns used in crimes across state lines. It concludes that the 10 worst offenders per capita, led by Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky, supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states last year.

The study also seeks to draw a link between gun trafficking and gun control laws by analyzing gun restrictions in all 50 states in areas like background checks for gun purchases, policies on concealed weapons permits and state inspections of gun dealers. It finds that, across the board, those states with less restrictive gun laws exported guns used in crimes at significantly higher rates than states with more stringent laws. An advance copy of the study was provided to The New York Times.

...The mayors plan to use the new trafficking data to push for more stringent gun restrictions at the state and federal levels. Among the targets, coalition officials said, will be closing the so-called gun show loophole. The loophole allows people to buy firearms at gun shows without going through the usual background checks that weed out felons and other banned buyers.

...“What this does is help refute some of the statements that people make on the pro-gun side in saying that tougher gun laws are unconnected to reducing crime,” [James Alan Fox, a criminology professor at Northeastern University who was not involved in preparing the study] said.

“A state’s gun laws are only as good as the weakest link in the national chain,” Professor Fox said. “A state with weaker gun laws becomes a supplier for states with stronger laws.”

Indeed, the authors of the mayors’ study, which was prepared largely out of [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s office, said the findings suggested that gun traffickers had sought out states with less restrictive gun-purchase laws.

Chart: Mayors Against Illegal Guns

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