Gun Control in Tough Spot in Increasingly Well-Armed America

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The dream of a gun-free America has never been more ephemeral. While calls for gun control still abound, their effectiveness is thrown into question by the reality of gun ownership. And the disconnect seems to be growing.

Polls suggest the majority of Americans don’t own a gun and support stricter gun laws. Gun ownership has stagnated for decades, according to Gallup.

In reality, however, gun sales have been breaking records in recent years, with a significant portion going to new gun owners, according to industry estimates.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s expansive gun control agenda boiled down to a single piece of legislation so far that expanded background checks and offered grants for state red flag laws, but didn’t go as far as banning any particular weapon.

On the legal front, the Supreme Court in June tossed some concealed carry restrictions in New York, de facto greenlighting challenges to similar statutes in other states.

Any proposition to actually disarm Americans is just a “pipe dream,” said Thomas Hogan, an adjunct fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, and former federal prosecutor.

Well Armed

The gun control argument posits that if gun ownership is restricted it will be more difficult for a bad actor to obtain a firearm and gun crime would thus decrease.

A common counterargument is that areas with some of the strictest gun laws, such as New York City, Chicago, or Philadelphia, suffer much more gun crime than many areas with less stringent gun laws.

Proponents of gun control usually retort that the strict laws are neutered by the fact that criminals can obtain guns in a neighboring state with looser laws.

However, criminals seldom buy their guns legally. A 2016 government survey of prison inmates showed only about 9 percent went to a gun store or a pawn shop to buy the firearm they carried while committing their crime. Less than one percent got it at a gun show. Almost 43 percent said they found it or got it online or from a private person, such as a relative or friend. About 6 percent said they stole it (pdf).

By Petr Svab

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