Top 'Firearms Myths' Dispelled
We very often hear a number of so-called 'facts' and 'statistics' tossed around among politicians and in the media in furtherance of the push for additional 'gun control' legislation, and the inaptly named fight against 'gun violence'. The reality is, nearly all of these calls and concepts are either unnecessary (due to large amounts of misinformation), impossible, or simply feel-good measures that are already covered in existing law.
Law-abiding people are, by definition, not willfully breaking laws. Laws, locks and fences only serve to keep honest people honest, and more regulation will only serve to create lawbreakers where none would have stood before. Simply put, criminals perform criminal acts. Violent people commit violence in our communities. What tool they choose to use is not the issue. It is, rather, the source of the act that should be our concern.
In no particular order, let us touch on several of the commonly stated concerns...
1. Criminals will and regularly do buy their guns through the “Gun Show Loophole”.
Under existing Federal law, any firearm purchased through ANY Federal Firearm Licensee (FFL), the purchaser is required to submit to a background check through the FBI's National Instant Check System (NICS). Not all states exclusively utilize this system, and some add additional checks of their own (Maryland among them), but all states go through NICS, at a minimum. Thus, there is no way to purchase a firearm from a dealer at a gun show without a background check.
2. You can order a firearm off the internet and receive it without a background check
Simply, there is no “Internet Sales Loophole”. Yes, there are many smaller FFLs, large web stores, and clearinghouses which provide sales by way of the internet. But, contrary to common belief, Federal law requires that the purchaser provide the name and address of a local FFL, where the firearm is to be shipped prior to the individual taking possession. At that time, the local FFL will perform the NICS background check and process the paperwork in accordance with Federal and State law.
3. You can cross into a state with more liberal firearms laws, and purchase a firearm
Existing Federal law prohibits simply crossing a state line, and purchasing a firearm from a private seller in that state. Such a purchase in that state would be required to be shipped to a FFL in your home state. Any purchase from a FFL would have to be legal in BOTH states in order to proceed. One could not, therefore, purchase a firearm in Virginia that is restricted in Maryland or New Jersey, and return with it to their home state. Once the firearm has been received by the local FFL, they would proceed to comply with all applicable law before possession could take place.
4. Anyone can buy any firearm, 'face-to-face', from anyone else.
In some states, this is partly true, provided that neither party is considered a 'Prohibited Person' under Federal law. State laws vary on these types or private transfers, but in Maryland the sale of handguns (which are the tools utilized in nearly 100% of crimes committed with firearms), must be handled either by an FFL or by the State Police, where fees are paid and NICS checks are done (along with other checks) before a transfer can occur.
5. There are over 80 “gun deaths” per day in the United States.
While the actual numbers in this claim may well be accurate, its attribution and detail are mishandled and misrepresented. The majority of these deaths (over 60%) are suicides. Another (approximately) 25-30% are accidents. The remaining 5-15% are indeed murders, but the largest number of those are drug and gang related. Your average person is not responsible for these, but rather a notoriously violent criminal class.
6. Suicide is increased by the easy availability of firearms.
While a firearm may be used as the tool of choice by someone acting out a suicide, it is known that those persons will find a way to end their lives, regardless of the means. In countries such as South Korea and Japan (where private firearms ownership is forbidden), the suicide rates are roughly double that of the United States. Improved Mental Health services will save many more lives than making firearms unavailable to the general public.
7. We must solve the “Gun Violence” problem through more restrictive legislation.
The problems we see in our communities are not caused by firearms, but rather by those who choose firearms to commit violence. In fact we see many instances where, absent a firearm (the UK, where private ownership of firearms is extremely limited, is a good example), criminals will pick up knives, bats, pipes and hand tools to commit violence against others. A criminal will always find a way, regardless of the presence of a firearm. Making crime 'more illegal' does nothing to address the core enforcement issues.
Thus, we have a 'criminal violence' problem that needs to be addressed. Enforcement of existing law, proper application of sentencing guidelines, and stopping the rampant use of plea deals (to eliminate the firearms charges) will go a long way to removing the criminal issues from our communities.
Additionally, many of these criminal actors could be addressed through revamped social and mental health services. But, for us to blithely assume that killings, robberies, and other acts committed by criminals are the fault and result of the presence of firearms? That would frankly be an underinformed and mistaken assessment of the facts.