Who Is Responsible for Gun Crime?

Photo: WashPo

(Photo: WashPo)

We say it all the time. Why? Because it’s true. Criminals — not law-abiding gun owners — are responsible for the vast majority of gun-related violence!

A new analysis from the University of Pittsburgh backs up our assertion. Researchers there, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, examined 762 cases in which a gun was recovered by police in 2008.

The main conclusion? “Most perpetrators (79%) were carrying a gun that did not belong to them,” the study states. In other words, those bad guys were criminals with stolen firearms.

Of course, the question is how did these guns end up in the hands of criminals? According to the research, over 30 percent were stolen and, presumably, another large percentage were obtained with the help of a straw purchase, an individual with no criminal history who purchases a firearm for a criminal acquaintance.

A look at a

(Photo: University of Pittsburgh)

The percentage of crime guns obtained through a straw purchaser is tougher to nail down for obvious reasons. Unless caught red-handed, the straw purchaser isn’t going to disclose to police that (a) they sold the firearm to a criminal or (b) that it was “stolen” or “lost” for fear that it may implicate them in the crime.

Either way, there’s little else that can be done legislatively to keep criminals from stealing guns or using straw purchasers to obtain them. Existing federal laws already prohibit both. Possession of a stolen firearm is punishable up to 10 years in prison as is selling or giving a firearm to any prohibited person, e.g. criminal, minor, mental defective, according to the Department of Justice.

However, various gun-control groups believe that passing laws that require gun owners to report to police lost or stolen firearms within a certain period of time would help crack down on straw purchasing. But again, an obvious loophole exists. Straw purchasers can easily claim that they had no knowledge that the gun was even “missing.” How does one report a lost or stolen gun that they don’t know is lost or stolen?

(Photo: University of Pittsburgh)

(Photo: University of Pittsburgh)

The burden would be on the state to prove that (a) they should’ve known it was missing and (b) that they then should’ve called the police. That’s not an easy task, as it concerns how one keeps their private property. Some folks inventory their firearms weekly, others yearly, and others not at all. And without enacting extraconstitutional gun laws, the government can’t get into the business of telling folks how they ought to inventory their firearms.

Needless to say, the mandate to report lost or stolen guns would really only impact the law-abiding, who are already the folks that report a gun lost or stolen, especially when it’s knowingly lost or stolen. This brings us back to square one, which is those inclined to break the law will break the law, regardless of the laws on the books. Or, as The Washington Post noted, when it examined the study:

“The top-line finding of the study — that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes aren’t committed by lawful gun owners — reinforces a common refrain among gun rights advocacy groups,” stated WashPo. “They argue that since criminals don’t follow laws, new regulations on gun ownership would only serve to burden lawful owners while doing little to combat crime.”

Amen! We’ve done pretty much all we can policy-wise — and then some — to tackle gun-relative violence. The only way to really address the issue is to (a) take existing criminals off the street and (b) create a society that creates fewer criminals.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Eric Claeyborn March 14, 2018, 7:17 am

    Take the Holy Bible out of public schools, and children will not learn,”Do not murder”,”Love your neighbor as yourself”, and “Love your enemy”. That’s what has been happening since 1963. Crime has been rising exponentially since then.

    • Jim June 21, 2019, 7:33 am

      Religion in schools is the last thing we need. Sorry, but most Americans don’t want to end up in a Christian version of Saudi Arabia. With those in charge deciding which of the Biblical passages to follow, and which to ignore. It wouldn’t stop gun violence anyway. Kids would just start using the Bible to justify the shootings. There are way to many passages that state a person should be put to death for________. “He ate shellfish!” “He gathered sticks on the Sabbath” “He spoke harshly to his parents!” “He took the Lord’s name in vain!” That one would depopulate whole cities, and the killers would feel perfectly justified.
      Just look at the devout Muslim countries, where all you have to do is say “He blasphemed Mohamed!” And you could get killed without consequence.

      • Jim June 21, 2019, 7:45 am

        Sorry, no Edit button. Meant to say where all SOMEONE has to say is “He blasphemed Mohamed!”
        And I just realized “eating shellfish” is just forbidden, doesn’t specifically say death as a punishment.
        Hey, it’s early. :/

  • Garry Perkins August 22, 2016, 7:40 pm

    I am a registered Democrat who lives on the South Side of Chicago. It is insane to blame gun owners for crime. If we really want to lower crime, then make the possession of a firearm by someone without a FOID card a major felony. We need to stop filling up our jails with kids who use/sell drugs, that way we can free up space to lock those who use guns for crime.

    Furthermore, we must ABSOLUTELY mandate birth control for every woman on welfare (including food stamps and Medicaid), and her daughters as well. That will reduce the number of morons going around shooting people over time.

  • Joe McHugh August 19, 2016, 4:13 pm

    The title of the article “Who’s responsible for gun crimes.” is really a rhetorical question. All people with at least two functioning brain cells should already know the answer by using their common sense.

    That a University, (Pittsburgh), actually initiated a study about this matter is mind boggling. How important is it that 79% of the crimes were committed by people who did not own the guns used in the crimes? If that figure was 75% or 85% would it be meaningful? Pssst! It matters not one wit, who owned the gun used in a crime, what really matters is the behavior of the perpetrator.

    I suggest that a University study the number of crimes that are committed by people with criminal records. Perhaps such a study would discover that NO crimes were committed by criminals still serving time in prison. If such a study were initiated, the judicial system might actually see the wisdom of entertaining convicted criminals in prisons for longer periods of time. Of course, this would only happen if the people demanded that the judicial system bring about lower crime rates. As it is, the politicians are only engaging in a Kabuki Dance designed to obscure their impotence in controlling crime.

    Forget about studying the guns, knives, clubs, etc, etc used in violent crimes. Focus on the criminals that misuse these implements instead. Throw the convicted violent criminal in jail and lose the key until he needs a walker to get around. Too cruel? Would you still think that way if you were severely injured, even crippled in a robbery? Would your survivors, (if any), think that way at your funeral? It’s not a “mistake” to hold a gun at an innocent person’s head and demand that he hand over his money or he will be shot. If that gun “accidentally goes off” anyway, that’s called murder to stop the innocent victim from testifying at a court proceeding.

    Hey, here’s a jobs creation program. Build new prisons and staff them with enough guards to ensure adequate security. Cost too much? Compared to what? What loss of life, injuries, and property losses are acceptable to a cost conscious public?
    The criminals will always be with us, what we are really considering here, is what to do with them when they identify themselves by their poor behavior.

    I can’t believe that I am writing this, but Communist China has a very low recidivism rate among its criminal element. They seem to have hit on an effective way to reduce repeat offenders, namely summary execution. Is the punishment really cruel and unusual if the repeat offender forces the authorities to deal with him again and again? And just to drive the point home, the family of the Chinese thug is charged for the cost of the bullets used in the execution. No one dares to complain to a news reporter about “excessive punishment” in China. I’m not saying that we should emulate China in everything, only the method of population control of repeat criminal offenders.

    At what point will the citizens wake up and denounce the elected representatives for blaming inanimate objects like guns and hammers, instead of the criminals that misuse them? The politicians are simply taking the easy way out by infringing on the rights of the law-abiding gun owning people. The politicians will continue to use this artifice as long as the public is gullible enough to believe that “something is being done” about the crime rate in America.

    • jim June 21, 2019, 8:37 am

      We already have the largest prison population in the world, and the largest number as a % of population. I think we also have the highest number of prisons (depending on how you define a prison). All of which cost us (as a country) an enormous amount of money (which the owners of, and people pushing, privatization programs for prisons just love). So I’m guessing the whole “lock-em up” philosophy has been pretty much debunked. Unfortunately, given the extent of the problem, and our societal makeup, a more effective socially-based solution probably isn’t viable either (we’re not Norway after all, and don’t want to be). I have no solutions, at least none that wouldn’t be considered cruel by most people, no matter how well they would work. Just saying more prisons isn’t the answer either.

  • Larry Koehn August 19, 2016, 2:04 pm

    DUH! Criminals who use guns are responsible for gun crime? I have carried for over 30 years and neither myself or any of my guns have committed any gun crimes. I keep an AR-15 pistol next to my bed, it has a Sig brace, but I would never shoulder it, and even that gun has not attacked me or my family and no one has broken in my house at night so I haven’t used it either. At one time I thought that all of my guns must be defective because they have never shot anyone and then I realized that it was my fault as I have wanted to shoot anyone.

  • Robert Pagan August 19, 2016, 7:24 am

    Put a responsible male figure in the home who is committed to raising responsible children and half of the problem is solved.

    • Damon August 22, 2016, 10:50 am

      Agreed. Then mandate single mothers on welfare must accept a Norplant birth control device until such a time when she is off welfare. If you need public assistance to feed, clothe, house, and educate your child, you shouldn’t have more children. This would hugely cut back on the feral packs of unsupervised children in certain neighborhoods who become the next generation of gangbanger.

  • DRAINO August 18, 2016, 10:48 am

    AGREE FULLY with SuperG!!! Lack of parenting, lack of education, lack of accountability, lack of personal responsibility. These four things combined are areas we need to improve on as a country to get us back on the right track. And yes, I believe corporal punishment needs to be part of these areas we lack in. As well as capital punishment. Consequences for crimes must be feared. New laws only hinder the law-abiding. Good article. Let’s see if the drive-by media will mention these facts.

    • DRAINO August 18, 2016, 11:05 am

      …..And we all know who is to blame…..besides the libtards and dumbocrats for trying to fortify their voter base with low information/bought-and-paid for voters. It was all the nose-in-the-air republicans who stayed home in 2012 and didn’t vote because Romney was the candidate. If those same IDIOTS stay home again and don’t go VOTE FOR TRUMP, The lack of everything good in this country will get worse. But there will be plenty of crime to go around….and AGAIN, it will be their fault.

      • carlton cureau August 19, 2016, 12:43 pm

        you left out background checks for purchasers, most of us NRA members are for this basic step and the leadership don’t want to let anyone change anything……one more point: when you start calling everyone names and making derogatory comments you lose your credibility in the discussion.

        • Joe McHugh August 19, 2016, 6:42 pm

          carlton cureau, do you know of any NRA members who do not agree that background checks need to be made to prevent violent felons and adjudged dangerous psychotics from acquiring firearms? I’ll say it right now, ALL members of the NRA would approve of a background check bill in the Congress IF it was just that, a background check.

          obama’s recent defeat of his gun registration, I mean “background check” bill really irritated him. That bill required detailed information about the firearm that the customer wanted to purchase.
          Question: Why is the government interested in what the serial number of your rifle is? Is there some magic way that this would prevent the criminal element from getting, or keeping guns? Call me crazy but I think not.

          OK, another question: what is the real reason that the government wants to know about your firearms? Answer: the only possible reason for such a database is to enable a follow up gun confiscation program. This is exactly what happened in Australia when the government told the people that registering their guns would help in the effort to “fight crime”. After the guns were confiscated, the firearm related crime rate went up, way up. Whoa, how could such a thing happen? Simple, the criminal element never registered their firearms! No government law enforcement agent arrived at the criminal’s doors because they didn’t show on the gun registration lists. Duh!

          So carlton, please don’t blithely state that “most of us NRA members are for this basic step” unless you provide the details about what that basic step would be.

  • SuperG August 17, 2016, 11:50 am

    Lack of education and parenting are the true culprits here. Lack of parenting leads to lack of attendance of school. Lack of education means you have no marketable skills for employment, then you resort to crime. Society must stop letting parents off the hook for their responsibility to raise their kids. If you made parents stand in court if their child disrupted or missed class a certain amount of times, you’d have a lot more kids learning. I guarantee you that even the most worthless parent doesn’t want their day ruined by having to stand in front of someone that could put them in jail, so little Johnny would be in school the very next day, albeit with a sore butt.

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