September 2, 2015
Gun control activists are quick to demand that the “gun show loophole” be closed in order to reduce the number of firearms related fatalities and guns in the hands of criminals. Their thought process is fairly logical, but very closed minded: criminals have to get their guns somewhere, and since private party sales aren’t subject to a background check then obviously that must be the point of entry for illegal guns! If only we could force everyone to get a background check to buy a gun the problem would be solved! There’s just one issue with that line of thinking: it bears no resemblance whatsoever to the reality “on the street.” Criminals aren’t buying their guns from gun shows or legal sources, at least according to a study released a couple days ago.
The study, titled “Sources of guns to dangerous people: What we learn by asking them” and released in the Journal of Preventative Medicine, is a survey of criminals to determine where they got the guns they used in crimes. Unlike those “news” sources that have an axe to grind in the gun control activism arena, I’m going to outline the limitations of this recent study right off the bat. This latest study was an (admittedly preliminary) survey of 99 criminals between the ages of 18 and 40 detained within the Cook County jail. Not only is that an extremely small sample size, but that’s also an extremely specific location. In order for this study to be applicable to the entire nation we would need samples from multiple locations and a much larger pool, and hopefully that’s what we will get in the future. But for now, we’ll work with what we’ve got.
In the study, the researchers asked their participants about the source of their firearms. The following table illustrates their results.