NRA: Gun Control Mind Games

By Dave Dolbee published on in News

Gun control advocates would have you believe that, if only there were background check requirements for all gun sales and transfers and if only the so-called “private sale loophole” was repealed, criminals would no longer be able to obtain guns online or at gun shows without a background check. Then, they’d have you believe, we’d see an end to the proliferation of guns and “gun violence.” Backers of the Bloomberg-funded background check initiative in Nevada, for example, argue that the initiative law is necessary because “criminals must be prevented from acquiring guns in simple ‘no questions asked’ transactions.”

Celestial graphic of the mind in the human head

Psychologists and anthropologists describe the illogical and emotional attribution of a causal connection between events or things, despite a lack of empirical evidence, as “magical thinking.” Magical thinking presumes a meaningful relationship between actions and events where there is not much more than coincidence in play—like acing a job interview while wearing “lucky” underwear.

Such flawed reasoning of a “now you see it, now you don’t” relationship between “universal background check” laws and criminals’ access to firearms was exposed as far back as 1997. The U.S. Department of Justice asked inmates in state and federal prisons about firearm use, and in particular, how they acquired the guns used in or possessed during their crimes. The vast majority of the prisoners pointed to purchases or loans by family members or friends, or illegal sources like theft, and “black market” or street buys. Retail gun stores were used less than ten percent of the time, and gun shows were the least likely source, with less than one percent of criminals acquiring their guns using this means.

More recently, a study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab published last year confirmed that the most likely sources of guns for criminals were fellow gang members and similar “social network connections.” The study, of detainees at the Cook County Jail, found that purchases from gun stores were rare, with only two of the criminals saying they bought their gun in a legal retail sale. Significantly, Illinois law at the time prohibited almost all private sales and transfers of guns between unlicensed persons, unless the person seeking to acquire the gun presented a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. FOID cards are issued by the State Police after a background check, and criminals, drug addicts, aliens illegally present in the United States, persons with disqualifying mental health conditions and others are ineligible (and cardholders face revocation if they fail to continue to meet the application criteria after the card is issued).

Now another, admittedly more anecdotal, “study” by Houston’s ABC13.com sheds much of the same light on how criminals get their guns. The news outlet contacted every convicted murderer since 2014 in Harris County, Texas who used a gun in their crime, asking how the gun was acquired. Of those that responded, the overwhelming majority, almost 90 percent, used other than the legally regulated gun market, naming theft, street buys, the “black market,” or a “friend of a friend” sale. The rest used a gun store. None identified a gun show source.

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Other interesting take-aways from the Houston survey were that the guns used were invariably handguns. Despite most of the criminals being legally prohibited from buying or possessing firearms and knowing whether they or not they were prohibited, they were able to get guns nonetheless. As one survey respondent explained: “No matter the efforts of law enforcement along with laws, guns will always be available to people on the black market.”

In much the same way that the state law wasn’t a real barrier to the Illinois detainees, “universal background check” laws are unlikely to prevent criminals and other dangerous people from acquiring guns. At most, what such laws may do is provide a mechanism for punishing people after the fact, once the gun crime comes to light, but this, too, isn’t always the case. A recent prosecution—the first and only one, to date—under the “universal background check” law imposed by Initiative 594 in Washington State two years ago, involved a gun that was illegally transferred between persons prior to being used in a murder. Only the initial alleged transferor—not himself a party to the murder—has been charged with violating the background check law. How this prosecution unfolds remains to be seen, as media reports indicate this person cannot be found.

This kind of magical thinking—the gun control narrative that persists in claims that expanded background check laws will prevent criminals from accessing guns and prevent crime—ignores the impact of existing laws on criminal behavior and what criminals themselves identify as the major sources of “crime guns.” Increased background checks and “assault weapon” bans are as likely to live up to these public safety promises as the other “common sense gun reforms” being floated out by the gun control crowd. The reality, unfortunately, is that the principal consequence of such laws—besides hoodwinking the public—is to further burden the ownership of lawfully-acquired firearms by millions of law-abiding Americans.

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Comments (7)

  • Brian

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    Jay, quit being an idiot. Your responses are the same uneducated responses liberals always give. You have nothing to back up your argument. Hell, it’s obvious you don’t even do your homework. Driving drunk is against the law, yet hundreds of thousands more people are killed every year by drunk drivers breaking the law, especially children. Cars and motorcycles are used in all sorts of crimes, yet we have to pass a written and operational/background exam to get a license to drive legally. Tens of thousands of people if not hundreds of thousands drive illegally every day, some committing violent crimes, some nonviolent misdemeanors, etc. According to your argument, we should expand background checks on ALL drivers every time they wish to buy a car, maybe even make them wait a day or two before buying their first car. Hundreds of thousands of people are killed every year from medical malpractice. Yet, no one is demanding we expand Doctor certifications or background checks every time they wish to perform a medical procedure or prescribe a medication. Because it is obvious that doctors and automobiles are each separately responsible for more deaths of innocent people than law-abiding gu owners. Not to mention the fact that you have never been deemed to have God-given, constitutional right to drive nor to have a risk-free medical procedure. Wake up Jay, it’s not about protecting people. That is the veil behind which the elites hide to convince liberals, which you appear to be (I could be wrong. Just going by your comments/reactions) that what they are trying to do is in your best interest. Please remember the 9 most dangerous words to your freedom you could ever hear are “I’m from the goverment, and I’m here to help.” Please do your homework. Look at how gun control started in Germany, in China, Great Britain, in Austrailia, etc. I’ll let you do your own homework, it will mean much more to you than spoon feeding it to you. Ask the Austrailians how “gun registration” worked out for them. Does this sound familiar “you get to keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” And “We had to lie to the American people in order to get it passed.” Mark Gruber. Or, “First, we have to pass the bill before we can find out what’s in it.”- Nancy Pelosi. We could do this all day. Do your homework. Just look up gun control for those countries listed above and the correlates rise in violent crimes. Hell, for that matter, look up the correlation of gun-free zones, such as Chicago and DC, and their violent crime rates, including gun violence. You think anyone committing gun violence in Chicago went through a “background check” in order to obtain the gun(s) used in the crimes?

    Gun control is wonderful…for those who control the guns! Go back and tesearch why our founding fathers write into the constitution that we have a right to own guns to protect ourselves. One could go a step further and point out the fact that when that right was written into our constitution, the arms were military grade. That’s right, the same arms capability our military of the day had.

    Sounds like you have a lot of homework to do, Jay. I’d get busy on it before making a further ass of yourself on a site like this. Once you have done your homework, I am more than willing to debate you on the topic.

    Reply

  • BobM

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    So, the idea is no good because it won’t stop criminals? By that thinking, we shouldn’t have laws against murder and robbery, ’cause people will still murder and rob.

    The magical thinking is dismissing any suggested regulation because it’s not “perfect”. I’ve had to wait on gun purchases because of background checks and never considered it much of an inconvenience.

    Reply

    • Jay

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      Well Bob clearly you missed the point. The overwhelming majority of criminals don’t wait for background checks because they don’t get the guns from by legal means. So why do we need yet another mandate that is likely unenforceable? Because it’s about the progressives like George Soros etc al. controlling you and everyone’s else’s ability to legally own a firearm. Without one , you can be controlled much easier. You must be unaware of the 20k+ various gun laws already in place that the criminals don’t follow.

      Grow up, get out of your liberal shell, it ain’t about you waiting for a background check.

      Reply

    • BobM

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      Well, Jay, since there are background checks currently and some number of buyers are stopped, I’m not sure what part of that you think is unenforceable. I agree that the laws we have should be enforced more vigorously, but all the proposals I’ve seen are about expanding them into areas where they aren’t done now. Not sure what’s wrong with that, or why you think it’s “liberal”, but whatever.

      20K laws? I call BS, unless you counting all the laws in the country, most of which don’t apply to any one individual, in which case, way to use a meaningless number to make an irrelevant point.

      I can pass a check just fine, so Mssrs. Soros & Blomberg don’t interfere with my ability to own any of the firearms I do. If you’re having trouble getting one because of a background check, you probably shouldn’t own one.

      Reply

  • Brian

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    What most people don’t understand is that it is NOT, and never was, about reducing crime or reducing violence. “Gun control” is about PEOPLE CONTROL. To quote Vladimir Lenin, “One man with a gun can control 100 without a gun.” If you really understand who/what the “progressives” really are and where they come from, you understand that they are all about moving us all towards Communism, New World Order, or whatever you want to call it. It is a movement towards the elite controlling, living off of, and profiting from the non-elite/commoners. Conspiracy theory? I am open to any argument. I wish to God I were wrong. But, just a little healthy skepticism will cause one to question and find reason for everything. Just look at any communist or socialist society. How many of them allow the private ownership of guns? How many of them allow the level of freedom our forefathers and millions of soldiers after them fought and died for that we now enjoy, yet are slowly allowing the elites/government to take away? Ask yourselves WHY they don’t allow those freedoms to there citizens, sorry, I meant subjects. Why would they not allow their subjects to own and carry firearms? WHY is it not their right to do so? The answer simply is that allowing subjects to own and carry firearms would give those subjects the power to strike fear into their rulers. What did our forefathers mean by “freedom”? It was freedom from an oppressive government. All other freedoms stem from that one freedom! Please keep this argument of reality in mind when viewing future attempts at “gun control.” When you understand something/someone, you can predict it/them.

    Reply

  • dprato

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    One point that seems to be totally absent from the entire gun control potential confiscation issue is the parallel that people have not made to prohibition. When prohibition was in effect it opened the entire Country to a black market illegal trade in alcohol that did nothing but benefit criminals and also made criminals of the consumers. I believe it was the only amendment ever repealed. Trying to do the same with firearms, I believe, will have the same result and simply create a black market and make criminals out of formerly law abiding citizens. Something for the anit gun crowd to consider.

    Reply

  • Dragon

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    Hmmm…..More BS from the anti-Second Amendment folks. As a regular and frequent attendee at Texas gun shows, I have found that all exhibitors try to follow some sort of screening process when selling their firearms. Of course FFL dealers run the purchaser’s name through the NICS and complete the idiotic ATF Form 4473, but even private sales involve the exhibitor requiring some proof of positive identification. Of course those purchasers who are licensed concealed carriers simply present their license in lieu of being submitted to the NICs.

    Reply

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