The historic rise in gun sales this year has given President Joe Biden and the gun control lobby a perfect scapegoat for the equally historic rise in homicides. Rather than consider how the “defund the police” movement has hamstrung law enforcement and allowed criminals to run free, Biden and his cronies are blaming lawful gun owners for flooding America’s streets with “weapons of war.”
It’s easy to see how Americans might fall for this lie. If more guns lead to more crime, then the tens of millions of guns sold this year must have something to do with the thousands of murders in major U.S. cities, right?
There’s a fatal flaw in Biden’s logic, and anyone who knows anything about where criminals get firearms should be able to see it.
If you read emails and press releases from gun control groups like Everytown (and I don’t recommend it), you’ve been bombarded with messages that connect the rise in “gun crime” to the quickening pace of gun buying. This Everytown page, for example, links the “record increases in gun sales” to the uptick in violent crime and argues that gun buying puts “many people at increased risk for gun violence.”
In another Everytown press released published by CBS News, the group connects 2020’s record gun sales to the current homicide spike and uses that connection to call for universal background checks.
Because “more guns are being purchased and trafficked than ever,” Everytown wants to outlaw private sales, “so that gun traffickers and criminals don’t go shopping across state lines,” according to the report.
The White House alluded to the same line of thinking in its latest gun control push. Their fact sheet connects the recent “surge in gun violence” to the “flow of firearms used to commit crimes,” and mentions the “secondary consequences of the pandemic and the proliferation of illegal guns over the same period.”
A slightly more sophisticated version of the same argument theorizes that increased gun sales are putting a strain on the current background check system, which leads to more violent crime.
Without citing any evidence, Everytown argues that this “strain” has allowed guns to “fall into the wrong hands.” American Progress makes the same argument here, asserting (again, without evidence) that the “strain” of the rise in gun sales has allowed prohibited people to acquire firearms at federally licensed dealers.
The bottom line is clear enough. The reason we’re seeing a 30% rise in homicides has nothing to do with bad policy and everything to do with Americans purchasing more guns.
There are several pretty obvious flaws to this logic. The first is that firearms take an average of eight years to reach criminal hands, according to the ATF. This is called “time-to-crime,” and it means that, on average, the guns purchased in 2020 won’t show up at crime scenes until 2028.
Some guns are found at crime scenes much earlier. Others are used in crimes but never recovered. But to argue that 2020’s gun surge has anything to do with the ongoing homicide crisis? It’s laughable. The guns purchased in the last 12 months aren’t being used by gang bangers in Baltimore.
The more sophisticated argument—that record gun buying is “straining” the background check system—is also without merit. It’s true that the Department of Justice has asked for more resources to complete delayed checks. It’s also true that if a background check gets “delayed,” a gun dealer is allowed to transfer that firearm to the purchaser if they do not receive a determination within three business days.
But do criminals acquire guns by submitting to a background check, waiting three business days, and collecting their “Saturday Night Special” from unsuspecting firearms dealers?
SEE ALSO: Biden’s New ‘Gun Crime Prevention Strategy’ Puts the Screws to FFLs with ‘Zero Tolerance’ Enforcement
Only about 10 percent of criminals purchase their firearm from a licensed dealer, according to a survey of inmates published in Preventative Medicine. “Rarely is the proximate source either direct purchase from a gun store, or theft,” researchers found, adding that most acquired their gun from a friend or acquaintance.
Even the ATF admits that the three-day waiting game isn’t a big source of crime guns. Agents who spoke with Fox News last year stressed that many criminals or criminal gun dealers acquire firearms through straw purchases. They ask a friend or relative without a criminal record to purchase a gun (which is illegal, by the way), and then they either use that gun to commit a crime or sell it on the street.
These criminals will get their guns regardless of whether the instant criminal background check system is “strained.” For those without a criminal record, the check will process instantly, and a gun store clerk won’t be any the wiser.
Also worth noting: while the FBI processed a record number of background checks last year, they also denied a record number of sales, indicating that the system is working just fine.
In the excellent book, “Why Meadow Died,” a parent of a child killed in the Parkland massacre argues that incompetent politicians who blame the NRA for violence are no better than the South American dictators who blame America for poverty. Both are using a shadowy, faraway enemy to distract from their own terrible, ineffective governance, and we’re watching the same play out here.
The millions of Americans who purchased guns this year shouldn’t be blamed for rising rates of violence. There’s no evidence to support it, and President Biden and our city’s mayors shouldn’t be allowed to get away with such a lazy slander against America’s gun owners.