We Don’t Need Better Laws On Gun Safety. We’ve Got The NRA.

            Shannon Watts wrote a column for Huffington Post promoting more effective laws to hold parents accountable when their children get their hands on guns. She points out that child access prevention (CAP) laws make a real difference in unintentional gun injuries in which the victims are kids, but that the NRA has chosen to oppose such laws because CAP might “infringe on gun owners’ rights to effectively protect their homes.”

eagle            What Shannon didn’t mention is that the NRA goes a lot further than just fighting CAP laws. They also promote themselves as America’s gun-safety organization through their Eddie Eagle program which they claim to have introduced to more than 26 million children in schools throughout all 50 states. The program materials consist of instructional brochures, DVDs, student workbooks and the like, all designed to “keep America’s young children safe.”

The gun industry and the NRA touts their commitment to gun safety because unintentional gun injuries have steadily declined over the past twenty years.  The NSSF cites data from the National Safety Council which shows that deaths of children from accidental shootings has dropped by more than 70% since 1993, with all unintentional gun mortality for both children and adults now standing at an all-time low. What better proof could there be about the effectiveness of the NRA’s Eddie Eagle program or other safety programs conducted by the NSSF?  All the more reason why comprehensive CAP laws would just make it more difficult for gun owners to protect themselves, their families and their homes, right?

Duhhh, there’s only one little problem.  The NRA and the gun lobby in general can’t ever seem to understand that causation and causality are two very different things.  The fact that unintentional gun injuries have declined over the same period that the NRA claims to have introduced its Eddie Eagle gun safety program to millions of school kids doesn’t mean that one has anything to do with the other, even if they occurred at the same time.

The NRA has never validated its claims about the effectiveness of Eddie Eagle through an objective, third-party source.  And while the NRA Eddie Eagle website contains what at first glance appears to be an impressive list of individuals who comprise the program “task force,” if you examine the list closely you soon discover that while it includes teachers, school administrators, NRA staff and a few cops, there isn’t a single individual connected to the program in any way who has ever attempted to study the impact or value of the program at all.

Public health researchers have convincingly demonstrated that efforts to change the behavior of children by discussing issues in group settings yields little, if any positive results.  The most effective way to modify the behavior of children is on a one-to-one basis, and if the teaching is widened to a group setting, the target group should be very small.  The fact that the NRA has never conducted any study to test the before-and-after results of distributing their safety literature either in classrooms or in community groups makes it impossible to accept their self-congratulatory statements about teaching gun safety to kids.

I’m not saying the Eddie Eagle program doesn’t work.  I’m saying that to use a totally non-validated safety program as an excuse for opposing CAP laws is shabby at best, harmful and unsafe at worst. The real reason that unintentional gun injuries have declined over the past twenty years is because gun makers have phased in more safety engineering (e.g., floating firing pins) and states now require additional safety features such as loaded chamber indicators and minimum trigger-pull weights. But neither factor invalidates Shannon’s call for more comprehensive CAP laws.  If the NRA was really serious about representing all those responsible gun owners, they would welcome laws that require guns to be locked or locked away.

 

 

 

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10 thoughts on “We Don’t Need Better Laws On Gun Safety. We’ve Got The NRA.

  1. Perhaps we should also have CAP laws covering prescription medications as well? Having your defensive firearm locked away and unloaded defeats the point of having a defensive firearm. Now I have 2 safes that I have mine locked in to keep my kids out of, but my primary defensive gun is loaded. It is locked in a biometric safe that I can get into in a reasonable time while keeping my kids out. I don’t need you or anyone else looking over my shoulder.

    • Actually, we do. Thanks to public health research, prescriptions can only be sold in childproof dispensers and common toxins, like laundry detergent also must be in sealed, tamper-proof containers. Accidental child death by swallowing laundry detergents was a major cause of child mortality, now it has disappeared. But of course if we ask gun makers to do the same kind of thing we are attacking the 2nd Amendment rights of people like John, right?

  2. Laundry detergents don’t come in child proof containers? Prescriptions don’t have to come in child proof containers, my grandparents get simple twist off lids at their request. So your rebuttal is just bunk.

    One of the biggest child health issues in the last few years is abuse of prescription drugs. Kids have been stealing their parents’ meds. Since this is a risk, should the parents be held liable for not locking up the medications?

    What do gun makers have to do with how the gun user stores their guns? Nothing! If a child is harmed because a gun was left in an accessible location, that is the responsibility of the gun owner, not the gun maker.

    The 2nd gives me the right to keep and bear arms. It has been recognized that I and everyone else have a right to self defense. As was determined in Heller, requiring me to render my firearm unusable for a reasonable defense is unconstitutional.

    Now I agree that parents need to be accountable for what happens to their children. That means if a child is left in a hot car, then that person needs to go to jail. If we are going to have strict liability, then let’s do it across the board. So why are you only concerned with gun liability? Or do you just have selective outrage?

    Speaking of selective outrage, if you are so concerned with the mortality of children, then are you against abortion? This so called right kills orders of magnitude more children each year then do guns. I don’t like abortion in principle, but I realize that in a free society that others will do things that I don’t agree with. How I choose to keep and bear my arms in my home is my private business. As I said before, I neither need nor want your help or anyone else’s for that matter.

    • Effectiveness
      Child-resistant containers can save your child’s life, but they aren’t foolproof. According to a 1996 study by Dr. Gregory B. Rodgers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, childhood deaths from accidental ingestion of prescription medication have dropped 45 percent since the development of child-resistant packaging in 1974. However, many kids still figure out how to open these containers on their own. Real kids test child-resistant packaging before it is used on real products, and the Consumer Products Safety Commission considers packaging to be child-resistant if 80 percent of kids under age 5 cannot open it.

      These folks say it is 45% reduction as opposed to your claim of 90%. My guess is that your “facts” are just regurgitated from someone else. You just pick and choose whom you will have faith in.

      Sent from my iPad

      On Jan 25, 2015, at 6:14 PM, Mike Weisser wrote:

      So what if there are exceptions? The fact is that these containers have reduced child self-poisoning by 90% or more. You just can’t give in, can you.

      From: shjofriend@yahoo.com [mailto:shjofriend@yahoo.com]
      Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2015 7:04 PM
      To: Mike Weisser
      Subject: Re: Child-proof prescriptions

      · Home
      · /
      · Regulations, Laws & Standards
      · /
      · Statutes
      Share on facebookShare on twitterShare on emailShare on printMore Sharing Services33
      Poison Prevention Packaging Act
      Enacted in 1970, the PPPA (available in PDF), requires a number of household substances to be packaged in child-resistant packaging. The packaging required by the PPPA must be designed or constructed to be significantly difficult for children under five years of age to open within a reasonable time, and not difficult for normal adults to use properly. For the sake of the elderly and handicapped who might have difficulty opening such containers, the Act provides that a regulated product available for purchase on store shelves may be packaged in one non-complying size provided it carries a warning that it is not recommended for use in households with children, and provided that the product is also supplied in complying popular size packages. Regulated prescription drugs may be dispensed in non-child-resistant packaging upon the specific request of the prescribing doctor or the patient. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates economic poisons, such as pesticides. Since the regulation has been in effect, there have been remarkable declines in reported deaths from ingestions by children of toxic household products including medications.

      Says right there that there are exceptions. Just pulled this from their web site.

      Sent from my iPad

      On Jan 25, 2015, at 6:10 AM, Mike Weisser wrote:

      Do me a favor. Don’t say things that are simply not true. Child-proof prescription containers are federal law. Period. Stop arguing what you shouldn’t be arguing about, okay?

      If you carry a gun, it’s bound to go off sooner or later.
      Walter Mosley

    • I agree that Eddie Eagle has not proven itself to be effective, but neither have any of the gun groups proved anything they have done to be effective as well.

      However, the biggest misconception people have about Eddie Eagle is that taught once will yield lifetime results. How many times did you have repeat “look both ways before crossing the street” before it stuck? Likewise EE needs to be one of those things you repeat and review several times a year.

      CAP laws, and the foolish programs of some of the anti-gun groups are likely to yield little in safety. Many do not include children in the mix. One group I debated said anything that included children was wrong because it put safety on the backs of children. With that kind of attitude you have to wonder if their children ever learned how to cross the street safely.

      More to the point, even if your kids are in a gun free environment what if they find a gun at the playground where some felon tossed it? If you have done Eddie Eagle, and enhanced it with role play (like I do) you have a better chance that they will go find that grownup. It doesn’t mean they will, tragedies may still happen, but lives will be saved.

      There is plenty of evidence that gun safety programs work. In my state of Louisiana when the state required hunter safety training, the following years the hunting deaths dropped to zero. Likewise in concealed carry courses gun safety is major portion of the training.

      So it is difficult to imagine that as these gun safety courses have yielded safer gun owners, how could Eddie Eagle not yield safety enhancements? It might be noted, and rightfully so, that parents teaching Eddie Eagle may well have discovered unsafe conditions in the homes, corrected them, and those too may be reasons for the drop in accidental deaths.

      Durring the Obama years the number of guns in the USA increased by a third. Gun owners are now estimated to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 65-85 million. The number of CHL holders, the stat with very accurate numbers, is over 13 million with a third of these being women.

      Besides the training many new gun ownerrs are pursuing, gun safes, RSCs, locks, etc. are in high demand. No doubt gun owners employing such devices have contributed to the low accidental shootings rate among minors (>1%).

      You have to wonder why Eddie Eagle’s mantra of “STOP, DON’T TOUCH, RUNAWAY, TELL A GROWNUP” is so controversial to the anti-gun groups. They may like to say they are for safety, but it makes you wonder if safety is not part of their agenda.

  3. Summary of Select Firearm Violence
    Prevention Strategies

    Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D.

    Deputy Director

    National Institute of Justice

    January 4, 2013

    On average there are about 11,000 firearm homicides every year. While there are deaths resulting from
    accidental discharges and suicides, this document will focus on intentional firearm homicides. Fatalities
    from mass shootings (those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time) account on average for
    35 fatalities per year. Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater
    impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings.

    This document provides a cursory summary of select initiatives to reduce firearm violence and an
    assessment of the evidence for the initiative.

    Gun buybacks

    Twitter summary: Buybacks are ineffective unless massive and coupled with a ban

    Goal: Reduce access to firearms by incentivizing owners to dispose of their unwanted guns rather than
    transfer them to a more risky possessor

    Evidence: Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented. 1. The buybacks are too small to have
    an impact. 2. The guns turned in are at low risk of ever being used in a crime. 3. Replacement guns are
    easily acquired. Unless these three points are overcome, a gun buyback cannot be effective.

    The 1997 Australia gun buyback and its associated regulations is an exception to this. 1. It was large,
    buying back 20% of the firearm stock. 2. It targeted semi-automatic weapons. 3. It coupled the buyback
    with a ban on certain weapons and a nationwide registration and licensing program. There is strong
    evidence that it reduced mass killings (before the initiative massacres occurred on average once per
    year and none have occurred in the 15 years since).

    The Australia buyback appears to have had no effect on crime otherwise. One study (Leigh & Neill 2010)
    has proven confusing in that its abstract suggests that Australia’s gun buyback reduced firearm homicide
    rates by 80%, but the body of the report finds no effect. Others (Reuter & Mouzas 2003) have used the
    same data and also found no effect on crime although they also noted that mass shootings appear to
    have disappeared in Australia. A third study (Chapman et al 2006) using Australian data from 1979 to
    2003 shows that the firearm homicide rate was already declining prior to the firearm reforms and that

    there is no evidence that the new legislation accelerated the declines. This remains true when data
    through 2007 are added to the analysis (conducted by G. Ridgeway on 1/3/2013 at NIJ).

    Large capacity magazines restrictions

    Twitter summary: Great potential to reduce lethality; requires a massive reduction in supply

    Goal: Reduce the lethality of guns by reducing the number of rounds that can be quickly fired.

    Program: Restrictions on the manufacture, sale, transfer, and possession of large capacity magazines
    (usually defined as holding more than 10 rounds).

    Evidence: Mass shootings predominantly involve the use of large capacity magazines. The most lethal
    ones all involve large capacity magazines. In addition large capacity magazines were used in nearly 25%
    of all crimes in 1993 just prior to the ban. There is reason to believe that reducing the availability of
    large capacity magazines could have an effect on the total number of homicides.

    In five cities studied closely found no change in the criminal use of large capacity magazines during the
    ten year ban. However, a Washington Post analysis for Virginia continued the analysis where the
    research team left off. The data indicate that the percentage of crime guns using large capacity
    magazines declined from 18% in 1999 (when magazine imports were highest) to its lowest level in 2004
    (10% of crime guns had large capacity magazines). The percentage doubled between 2004, when the
    ban expired, and 2010.

    The 1994 ban on large capacity magazines had limited effectiveness because 1) Large capacity clips are a
    durable good 2) There were an estimated 25 million guns with large capacity magazines in 1995 3) The
    1994 law exempted magazines manufactured before 1994 so that the importation of large capacity
    magazines manufactured overseas before 1994 continued through the ban 4) while the price of the clips
    increased dramatically (80% during the ban) they were not unaffordable. A 2004 study of the 1994 law
    found: “because the ban has not yet reduced the use of [large capacity magazines] in crime, we cannot
    clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.” The 1994 ban essentially did
    little to affect the supply of large capacity magazines.

    In order to have an impact, large capacity magazine regulation needs to sharply curtail their availability
    to include restrictions on importation, manufacture, sale, and possession. An exemption for previously
    owned magazines would nearly eliminate any impact. The program would need to be coupled with an
    extensive buyback of existing large capacity magazines. With an exemption the impact of the restrictions
    would only be felt when the magazines degrade or when they no longer are compatible with guns in
    circulation. This would take decades to realize.

    Ammunition logs

    Twitter summary: Increases opportunities to detect illegal firearm possessors

    Goal: 1) Reduce flow of ammunition to the illicit market and 2) develop leads for illegal weapons.

    Program: Laws that prohibit certain individuals from owning firearms also pertain to ammunition (18
    USC 922g&n). Whereas direct retail sales of firearms to criminals are regularly disrupted by instant
    background checks, sales of ammunition are essentially unchecked. Ammunition purchase logs are a
    means of checking for illegal purchases and for developing intelligence on illegal firearms.

    Alternatively, several states do not record purchases, but rather require the purchaser to show a permit
    to purchase ammunition and only of the same caliber or gauge as their firearm. While purchasing a
    firearm is a one-time action, repeated purchases of ammunition create more complications for
    prohibited firearm possessors.

    Evidence: A study used criminal background checks conducted on individuals purchasing ammunition in
    Los Angeles in April and May 2004. 2.6% of transactions involved prohibited purchasers. They purchased
    5,000 rounds of ammunition per month during this period. Rather than institute instant checks on
    ammunition purchases, local police began regularly checking the logs for illegal purchases, using it as an
    intelligence tool to find not only ammunition but also the illegally possessed weapons. Sacramento
    instituted a similar program and identified 13 illegal purchasers per month in the first year, recovering
    an average of 7 illegal firearms per month.

    There is evidence that the program can be used to identify prohibited purchasers and can aid in the
    recovery of illegal firearms. The volume of recoveries is not of a scale likely to impact the illegal firearm
    trade, but could disrupt some criminal activity.

    In 2009 California passed AB 962 that would make the ammunition logs statewide. It has since been held
    up in court due primarily to the use of the phrase “handgun ammunition,” which is not a well-defined
    phrase.

    Universal background checks

    Twitter summary: Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun
    registration and an easy gun transfer process

    To understand the value of background checks it is essential to understand the source of crime guns.
    Several sporadic attempts have been made to learn how criminals acquire guns. For example, a 2000
    study by the ATF found the following distribution of sources

    Source

    Percentage

    Straw purchase

    47%

    Stolen

    26%

    Store

    14%

    Residence

    10%

    Common carrier

    2%

    Unregulated privati

    2 seller

    20%

    Gun shows/flea ma

    rkets

    13%

    Retail diversion

    8%

    Note: Percentages do not add up to 100% since some sources fall into multiple
    categories (e.g. unregulated seller at a flea market)

    These figures indicate informal transfers dominate the crime gun market. A perfect universal
    background check system can address the gun shows and might deter many unregulated private sellers.
    However, this does not address the largest sources (straw purchasers and theft), which would most
    likely become larger if background checks at gun shows and private sellers were addressed. The
    secondary market is the primary source of crime guns. Ludwig and Cook (2000) compared states that
    introduced Brady checks to those states that already had background checks and found no effect of the
    new background checks. They hypothesized that the background checks simply shifted to the secondary
    market those offenders who normally purchased in the primary market.

    Supply sources can vary in different parts of the country. An NIJ funded study of the Los Angeles illicit
    gun market noted: “Results showed that many crime guns were first purchased at local— that is, in
    county— licensed dealers, rather than from out of state. That is, contrary to the conventional wisdom
    that crime guns were being trafficked across state borders from places with less stringent regulations,
    such as Arizona and Nevada, we found that a majority of the guns used in crimes were purchased in Los
    Angeles County.” Thus, gun markets can be highly local.

    Understanding gun sources requires a sustained and localized surveillance program. For example, the
    program could interview new arrestees at intake about how they acquired their gun, cost, and general
    gun availability. This could be conducted in conjunction with BJA’s plans to target local violence
    prevention programs in 20 cities. This is similar to the ADAM program for monitoring drug markets and
    could, in fact, complement any restart of ADAM. In the coming years such data could become available
    through BJS efforts; BJS will include a series of questions in its 2013/2014 national inmate survey.

    Target straw purchasers

    Straw purchasers are the primary source of crime guns. Importantly, straw purchasers have no record of
    a prohibiting offense. As a result, they are quite different from those who actually commit crimes.
    Consistent with criminological theory, because the person conducting the straw purchase does not have
    a criminal history forbidding him or her from making legal purchases, this population could potentially
    be deterred from initiating this illegal activity.

    Because straw purchasers are the largest source for the illicit market and these purchasers likely can be
    deterred, effort should be focused here. There is little evidence on what works. The ATF and NSSF
    sponsored the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” public awareness campaign starting in 2000 but there are
    no evaluation reports of its effectiveness.

    A Los Angeles program to target straw purchasers sent new gun buyers a letter, signed by prominent
    law enforcement officials, indicating that law enforcement had a record of their gun purchase and that
    the gun buyer should properly record future transfers of the gun. The letters arrived during buyers’ 10-
    day waiting periods, before they could legally return to the store to collect their new gun. An NU-funded
    study found that the letter could modify gun owner behaviors. The study found that the rate at which
    guns are reported stolen for those who received the letter is more than twice the rate for those who did
    not receive the letter. While this does not show an effect on crime, it does show that a simple letter to
    those at risk of diverting guns to the illicit market can modify their behavior.

    Require all gun transfers to occur at an FFL

    Some states, such as California, require all transfers of guns to be properly documented ( since 1923 ).
    This usually requires the involvement of a federally licensed dealer in the transaction. Despite this, straw
    purchasing continues largely unabated. Wachtel (1998) describes some straw purchasing of crime guns
    for Los Angeles between 1988 and 1995. There are disincentives to following the law in California ($35
    and a waiting period). Such a process can discourage a normally law-abiding citizen to spend the time
    and money to properly transfer his or her firearm to another. To be effective, requiring all transfers to
    occur at an FFL needs to be coupled with all the necessary incentives (or at least no disincentives) for
    unlicensed sellers to follow the law. Sanctions and threats of penalties are insufficient.

    Gun shows

    Gun shows do provide firearms to the illicit market, but the problem is not uniquely about gun shows
    but rather secondary transfers of unregulated private sellers. Gun shows simply convene numerous
    private sellers along with FFLs. Gun shows in states requiring all transfers to be documented have fewer
    illegal gun sales according to Wintemute et al 2007 .

    Gun registration and continuous checks for possession eligibility

    Universal checks are insufficient for ensuring that firearm owners remain eligible. Convictions, mental
    health issues, and restraining orders can develop after the background checks.

    Recovering guns from those that become ineligible is likely effective. There is evidence from three
    studies that policies that check domestic violence perpetrators for firearm possession are effective at

    reducing intimate partner violence. Vigdor and Mercy (2006) found a 7% reduction in intimate partner
    homicide in states that allowed guns to be confiscated on site of domestic violence incidents. Zeoli and
    Webster (2010) found that state statutes restricting those under restraining orders from accessing
    firearms are associated with reductions of 20%-25% in total and firearm intimate partner homicide.
    Bridges et al (2008) found that most domestic violence laws do not effect intimate partner homicide
    except those relating to firearms. All three studies use methods that make alternative explanations
    unlikely.

    The challenge to implementing this more broadly is that most states do not have a registry of firearm
    ownership. Currently NICS background checks are destroyed within 24 hours. Some states maintain
    registration of all firearms. Gun registration aims to 1) increase owner responsibility by directly
    connecting an owner with a gun, 2) improve law enforcement’s ability to retrieve guns from owners
    prohibited from possessing firearms.

    Gun registration also allows for the monitoring of multiple gun purchases in a short period of time.

    Assault weapon ban

    Twitter summary: Assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime. The existing stock of
    assault weapons is large, undercutting the effectiveness of bans with exemptions

    Goal: Limit access to assault weapons.

    Program: Ban the manufacture, sale, transfer, or possession of assault weapons.

    Evidence: Guns are durable goods. The 1994 law exempted weapons manufactured before 1994. The
    exemption of pre-1994 models ensures that a large stock, estimated at 1.5 million, of existing weapons
    would persist. Prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in 2-8% of crimes. Therefore a
    complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.

    A National Academy study of firearms and violence concluded that the weaknesses of the ban and the
    scientific literature suggest that the assault weapon ban did not have an effect on firearm homicides.

    There is some evidence that the assault weapons bans can affect the availability of assault weapons. A
    2004 study found that “Following implementation of the ban, the share of gun crimes involving [assault
    weapons] declined by 17% to 72% across the localities examined for this study (Baltimore, Miami,
    Milwaukee, Boston, St. Louis, and Anchorage)… This is consistent with patterns found in national data
    on guns recovered by police and reported to ATF.” Weil and Knox (1997) found a sharp reduction in the
    number of assault weapons recovered by Baltimore police in the six months following Maryland’s ban
    on assault weapons. The federal ban came into effect a few months after Maryland’s ban, but
    Maryland’s ban had no provision grandfathering in already owned assault weapons.

    Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is
    large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. If coupled with a gun
    buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective. The 1997 Australian gun buyback was massive in
    scale and, while it appears to have had no effect on gun homicide, Australia has had no mass shootings
    since the ban was put in place.

    Smart guns

    Twitter summary: Most appropriate for making guns child safe or preventing police officers from being
    assaulted with their own firearm. Unlikely to affect gun crime

    Goal: Prevent gun use by unauthorized users, particular to prevent diversion of legally acquired firearms
    to the illicit market.

    Program: Between 1994 and 2004, the National Institute of Justice conducted a research effort to
    develop a technology that would preclude anyone but the owner of a gun from using it. If a gun were
    stolen with this technology installed, it would become inoperable. The focus of this effort was to
    preclude a law enforcement officer’s gun from being used if it were wrested from them during an
    assault. This technology was commonly referred to as ‘smart’ gun technology because it enabled the gun
    to ‘recognize’ its owner.

    In its 2005 assessment of this effort ” Technological Options for User-Authorized Handguns: A
    Technology-Readiness Assessment ” the National Academy of Engineering estimated that it would cost
    an additional $30 million and take 5 to 10 additional years to bring a ‘smart’ gun to market. The most
    likely approach to achieving this capability would be through use of radio frequency identification (RFID)
    technology.

    Evidence: The development of the technology has focused on making the guns child-proof or providing
    law enforcement officers with a firearm that could not be used against them. The realization of this
    technology would not prevent such shootings perpetrated by the owners of the guns involved. In
    addition this would not eliminate the illicit market, but rather alter it. There would remain an Summary of Select Firearm Violence
    Prevention Strategies

    Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D.

    Deputy Director

    National Institute of Justice

    January 4, 2013

    On average there are about 11,000 firearm homicides every year. While there are deaths resulting from
    accidental discharges and suicides, this document will focus on intentional firearm homicides. Fatalities
    from mass shootings (those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time) account on average for
    35 fatalities per year. Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater
    impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings.

    This document provides a cursory summary of select initiatives to reduce firearm violence and an
    assessment of the evidence for the initiative.

    Gun buybacks

    Twitter summary: Buybacks are ineffective unless massive and coupled with a ban

    Goal: Reduce access to firearms by incentivizing owners to dispose of their unwanted guns rather than
    transfer them to a more risky possessor

    Evidence: Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented. 1. The buybacks are too small to have
    an impact. 2. The guns turned in are at low risk of ever being used in a crime. 3. Replacement guns are
    easily acquired. Unless these three points are overcome, a gun buyback cannot be effective.

    The 1997 Australia gun buyback and its associated regulations is an exception to this. 1. It was large,
    buying back 20% of the firearm stock. 2. It targeted semi-automatic weapons. 3. It coupled the buyback
    with a ban on certain weapons and a nationwide registration and licensing program. There is strong
    evidence that it reduced mass killings (before the initiative massacres occurred on average once per
    year and none have occurred in the 15 years since).

    The Australia buyback appears to have had no effect on crime otherwise. One study (Leigh & Neill 2010)
    has proven confusing in that its abstract suggests that Australia’s gun buyback reduced firearm homicide
    rates by 80%, but the body of the report finds no effect. Others (Reuter & Mouzas 2003) have used the
    same data and also found no effect on crime although they also noted that mass shootings appear to
    have disappeared in Australia. A third study (Chapman et al 2006) using Australian data from 1979 to
    2003 shows that the firearm homicide rate was already declining prior to the firearm reforms and that

    there is no evidence that the new legislation accelerated the declines. This remains true when data
    through 2007 are added to the analysis (conducted by G. Ridgeway on 1/3/2013 at NIJ).

    Large capacity magazines restrictions

    Twitter summary: Great potential to reduce lethality; requires a massive reduction in supply

    Goal: Reduce the lethality of guns by reducing the number of rounds that can be quickly fired.

    Program: Restrictions on the manufacture, sale, transfer, and possession of large capacity magazines
    (usually defined as holding more than 10 rounds).

    Evidence: Mass shootings predominantly involve the use of large capacity magazines. The most lethal
    ones all involve large capacity magazines. In addition large capacity magazines were used in nearly 25%
    of all crimes in 1993 just prior to the ban. There is reason to believe that reducing the availability of
    large capacity magazines could have an effect on the total number of homicides.

    In five cities studied closely found no change in the criminal use of large capacity magazines during the
    ten year ban. However, a Washington Post analysis for Virginia continued the analysis where the
    research team left off. The data indicate that the percentage of crime guns using large capacity
    magazines declined from 18% in 1999 (when magazine imports were highest) to its lowest level in 2004
    (10% of crime guns had large capacity magazines). The percentage doubled between 2004, when the
    ban expired, and 2010.

    The 1994 ban on large capacity magazines had limited effectiveness because 1) Large capacity clips are a
    durable good 2) There were an estimated 25 million guns with large capacity magazines in 1995 3) The
    1994 law exempted magazines manufactured before 1994 so that the importation of large capacity
    magazines manufactured overseas before 1994 continued through the ban 4) while the price of the clips
    increased dramatically (80% during the ban) they were not unaffordable. A 2004 study of the 1994 law
    found: “because the ban has not yet reduced the use of [large capacity magazines] in crime, we cannot
    clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.” The 1994 ban essentially did
    little to affect the supply of large capacity magazines.

    In order to have an impact, large capacity magazine regulation needs to sharply curtail their availability
    to include restrictions on importation, manufacture, sale, and possession. An exemption for previously
    owned magazines would nearly eliminate any impact. The program would need to be coupled with an
    extensive buyback of existing large capacity magazines. With an exemption the impact of the restrictions
    would only be felt when the magazines degrade or when they no longer are compatible with guns in
    circulation. This would take decades to realize.

    Ammunition logs

    Twitter summary: Increases opportunities to detect illegal firearm possessors

    Goal: 1) Reduce flow of ammunition to the illicit market and 2) develop leads for illegal weapons.

    Program: Laws that prohibit certain individuals from owning firearms also pertain to ammunition (18
    USC 922g&n). Whereas direct retail sales of firearms to criminals are regularly disrupted by instant
    background checks, sales of ammunition are essentially unchecked. Ammunition purchase logs are a
    means of checking for illegal purchases and for developing intelligence on illegal firearms.

    Alternatively, several states do not record purchases, but rather require the purchaser to show a permit
    to purchase ammunition and only of the same caliber or gauge as their firearm. While purchasing a
    firearm is a one-time action, repeated purchases of ammunition create more complications for
    prohibited firearm possessors.

    Evidence: A study used criminal background checks conducted on individuals purchasing ammunition in
    Los Angeles in April and May 2004. 2.6% of transactions involved prohibited purchasers. They purchased
    5,000 rounds of ammunition per month during this period. Rather than institute instant checks on
    ammunition purchases, local police began regularly checking the logs for illegal purchases, using it as an
    intelligence tool to find not only ammunition but also the illegally possessed weapons. Sacramento
    instituted a similar program and identified 13 illegal purchasers per month in the first year, recovering
    an average of 7 illegal firearms per month.

    There is evidence that the program can be used to identify prohibited purchasers and can aid in the
    recovery of illegal firearms. The volume of recoveries is not of a scale likely to impact the illegal firearm
    trade, but could disrupt some criminal activity.

    In 2009 California passed AB 962 that would make the ammunition logs statewide. It has since been held
    up in court due primarily to the use of the phrase “handgun ammunition,” which is not a well-defined
    phrase.

    Universal background checks

    Twitter summary: Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun
    registration and an easy gun transfer process

    To understand the value of background checks it is essential to understand the source of crime guns.
    Several sporadic attempts have been made to learn how criminals acquire guns. For example, a 2000
    study by the ATF found the following distribution of sources

    Source

    Percentage

    Straw purchase

    47%

    Stolen

    26%

    Store

    14%

    Residence

    10%

    Common carrier

    2%

    Unregulated privati

    2 seller

    20%

    Gun shows/flea ma

    rkets

    13%

    Retail diversion

    8%

    Note: Percentages do not add up to 100% since some sources fall into multiple
    categories (e.g. unregulated seller at a flea market)

    These figures indicate informal transfers dominate the crime gun market. A perfect universal
    background check system can address the gun shows and might deter many unregulated private sellers.
    However, this does not address the largest sources (straw purchasers and theft), which would most
    likely become larger if background checks at gun shows and private sellers were addressed. The
    secondary market is the primary source of crime guns. Ludwig and Cook (2000) compared states that
    introduced Brady checks to those states that already had background checks and found no effect of the
    new background checks. They hypothesized that the background checks simply shifted to the secondary
    market those offenders who normally purchased in the primary market.

    Supply sources can vary in different parts of the country. An NIJ funded study of the Los Angeles illicit
    gun market noted: “Results showed that many crime guns were first purchased at local— that is, in
    county— licensed dealers, rather than from out of state. That is, contrary to the conventional wisdom
    that crime guns were being trafficked across state borders from places with less stringent regulations,
    such as Arizona and Nevada, we found that a majority of the guns used in crimes were purchased in Los
    Angeles County.” Thus, gun markets can be highly local.

    Understanding gun sources requires a sustained and localized surveillance program. For example, the
    program could interview new arrestees at intake about how they acquired their gun, cost, and general
    gun availability. This could be conducted in conjunction with BJA’s plans to target local violence
    prevention programs in 20 cities. This is similar to the ADAM program for monitoring drug markets and
    could, in fact, complement any restart of ADAM. In the coming years such data could become available
    through BJS efforts; BJS will include a series of questions in its 2013/2014 national inmate survey.

    Target straw purchasers

    Straw purchasers are the primary source of crime guns. Importantly, straw purchasers have no record of
    a prohibiting offense. As a result, they are quite different from those who actually commit crimes.
    Consistent with criminological theory, because the person conducting the straw purchase does not have
    a criminal history forbidding him or her from making legal purchases, this population could potentially
    be deterred from initiating this illegal activity.

    Because straw purchasers are the largest source for the illicit market and these purchasers likely can be
    deterred, effort should be focused here. There is little evidence on what works. The ATF and NSSF
    sponsored the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” public awareness campaign starting in 2000 but there are
    no evaluation reports of its effectiveness.

    A Los Angeles program to target straw purchasers sent new gun buyers a letter, signed by prominent
    law enforcement officials, indicating that law enforcement had a record of their gun purchase and that
    the gun buyer should properly record future transfers of the gun. The letters arrived during buyers’ 10-
    day waiting periods, before they could legally return to the store to collect their new gun. An NU-funded
    study found that the letter could modify gun owner behaviors. The study found that the rate at which
    guns are reported stolen for those who received the letter is more than twice the rate for those who did
    not receive the letter. While this does not show an effect on crime, it does show that a simple letter to
    those at risk of diverting guns to the illicit market can modify their behavior.

    Require all gun transfers to occur at an FFL

    Some states, such as California, require all transfers of guns to be properly documented ( since 1923 ).
    This usually requires the involvement of a federally licensed dealer in the transaction. Despite this, straw
    purchasing continues largely unabated. Wachtel (1998) describes some straw purchasing of crime guns
    for Los Angeles between 1988 and 1995. There are disincentives to following the law in California ($35
    and a waiting period). Such a process can discourage a normally law-abiding citizen to spend the time
    and money to properly transfer his or her firearm to another. To be effective, requiring all transfers to
    occur at an FFL needs to be coupled with all the necessary incentives (or at least no disincentives) for
    unlicensed sellers to follow the law. Sanctions and threats of penalties are insufficient.

    Gun shows

    Gun shows do provide firearms to the illicit market, but the problem is not uniquely about gun shows
    but rather secondary transfers of unregulated private sellers. Gun shows simply convene numerous
    private sellers along with FFLs. Gun shows in states requiring all transfers to be documented have fewer
    illegal gun sales according to Wintemute et al 2007 .

    Gun registration and continuous checks for possession eligibility

    Universal checks are insufficient for ensuring that firearm owners remain eligible. Convictions, mental
    health issues, and restraining orders can develop after the background checks.

    Recovering guns from those that become ineligible is likely effective. There is evidence from three
    studies that policies that check domestic violence perpetrators for firearm possession are effective at

    reducing intimate partner violence. Vigdor and Mercy (2006) found a 7% reduction in intimate partner
    homicide in states that allowed guns to be confiscated on site of domestic violence incidents. Zeoli and
    Webster (2010) found that state statutes restricting those under restraining orders from accessing
    firearms are associated with reductions of 20%-25% in total and firearm intimate partner homicide.
    Bridges et al (2008) found that most domestic violence laws do not effect intimate partner homicide
    except those relating to firearms. All three studies use methods that make alternative explanations
    unlikely.

    The challenge to implementing this more broadly is that most states do not have a registry of firearm
    ownership. Currently NICS background checks are destroyed within 24 hours. Some states maintain
    registration of all firearms. Gun registration aims to 1) increase owner responsibility by directly
    connecting an owner with a gun, 2) improve law enforcement’s ability to retrieve guns from owners
    prohibited from possessing firearms.

    Gun registration also allows for the monitoring of multiple gun purchases in a short period of time.

    Assault weapon ban

    Twitter summary: Assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime. The existing stock of
    assault weapons is large, undercutting the effectiveness of bans with exemptions

    Goal: Limit access to assault weapons.

    Program: Ban the manufacture, sale, transfer, or possession of assault weapons.

    Evidence: Guns are durable goods. The 1994 law exempted weapons manufactured before 1994. The
    exemption of pre-1994 models ensures that a large stock, estimated at 1.5 million, of existing weapons
    would persist. Prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in 2-8% of crimes. Therefore a
    complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.

    A National Academy study of firearms and violence concluded that the weaknesses of the ban and the
    scientific literature suggest that the assault weapon ban did not have an effect on firearm homicides.

    There is some evidence that the assault weapons bans can affect the availability of assault weapons. A
    2004 study found that “Following implementation of the ban, the share of gun crimes involving [assault
    weapons] declined by 17% to 72% across the localities examined for this study (Baltimore, Miami,
    Milwaukee, Boston, St. Louis, and Anchorage)… This is consistent with patterns found in national data
    on guns recovered by police and reported to ATF.” Weil and Knox (1997) found a sharp reduction in the
    number of assault weapons recovered by Baltimore police in the six months following Maryland’s ban
    on assault weapons. The federal ban came into effect a few months after Maryland’s ban, but
    Maryland’s ban had no provision grandfathering in already owned assault weapons.

    Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is
    large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. If coupled with a gun
    buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective. The 1997 Australian gun buyback was massive in
    scale and, while it appears to have had no effect on gun homicide, Australia has had no mass shootings
    since the ban was put in place.

    Smart guns

    Twitter summary: Most appropriate for making guns child safe or preventing police officers from being
    assaulted with their own firearm. Unlikely to affect gun crime

    Goal: Prevent gun use by unauthorized users, particular to prevent diversion of legally acquired firearms
    to the illicit market.

    Program: Between 1994 and 2004, the National Institute of Justice conducted a research effort to
    develop a technology that would preclude anyone but the owner of a gun from using it. If a gun were
    stolen with this technology installed, it would become inoperable. The focus of this effort was to
    preclude a law enforcement officer’s gun from being used if it were wrested from them during an
    assault. This technology was commonly referred to as ‘smart’ gun technology because it enabled the gun
    to ‘recognize’ its owner.

    In its 2005 assessment of this effort ” Technological Options for User-Authorized Handguns: A
    Technology-Readiness Assessment ” the National Academy of Engineering estimated that it would cost
    an additional $30 million and take 5 to 10 additional years to bring a ‘smart’ gun to market. The most
    likely approach to achieving this capability would be through use of radio frequency identification (RFID)
    technology.

    Evidence: The development of the technology has focused on making the guns child-proof or providing
    law enforcement officers with a firearm that could not be used against them. The realization of this
    technology would not prevent such shootings perpetrated by the owners of the guns involved. In
    addition this would not eliminate the illicit market, but rather alter it. There would remain an illicit
    market for guns that did not have this technology installed or for smart guns in which the technology
    had been neutralized.

    All of these so called “common sense” measures will not do what you all claim unless there are corresponding actions that would impede my and everyone else’s free exercise of the 2nd. Just because you don’t agree with that doesn’t change the facts. The fact is that we have an individual right to keep and bear arms that shall not be infringed. My individual right has nothing to do with militia service.

    Sacrificing freedom for an illusion of increased security leads to neither.

    • John,

      Interesting collection of information. I haven’t look into your information in great detail, but the one on assault rifles may need tweaking for a couple of reasons.

      1. Definition- The assault rifle definition is different from state to state. In fact the a state’s definition of assault rifle would differ from the classical definition in that the classical definition requires the rifle to be select fire.

      2. Number of crimes with assault rifles – 2 to 8% per year really sounds more like all the crimes committed by long guns. I though I had read a FBI stat that had the total number of crimes AR-15 style firearms at 30. For a crime to be committed with a true assault rifle, meaning select fire rifle, is probably much rarer than that.

      Gun buybacks-
      One thing not noted about gun buybacks is that they stop investigations instead of enhance them. It breaks the chain of custody of the firearm. It makes it difficult to link back to culprit that used the weapon in a crime. Some modified firearms that would be illegal to possess serves as an effective way forr felon to dump them. The rest of them are mostly junk and frequently unserviceable firearms.

      Australia compensated confiscation-
      A comparison was done between New Zealand and Australia. The analysts found that both countries were geographically and demographically similar. They also found theat neither country had a mass shooting since Australia did it compensated confiscation.

      It is little hard to call it a buyback when fair market value for the firearms was almost never paid, and the owner never had the option not to accept the government’s offer without risking jail.

  4. “I don’t believe gun owners have rights.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “They are looking only to protect gun owners’ quote – and I stress that – rights, because I don’t believe gun owners have rights. The Second Amendment has never been interpreted that way. Now I am not for taking guns away or denying guns to law-abiding citizens, but I don’t think it’s a constitutional right that they have, and every court case that’s ever come down has shown that.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “Our main agenda is to have ALL guns banned. We must use whatever means possible. It doesn’t matter if you have to distort facts or even lie. Our task of creating a socialist America can only succeed when those who would resist us have been totally disarmed.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    .

    “The gun lobby finds waiting periods inconvenient. You have only to ask my husband how inconvenient he finds his wheelchair from time to time.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “We must get rid of all the guns.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “Our ultimate goal- total control of handguns in the United States- is going to take time… The first problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced… The second problem is to get handguns registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of handguns and all handgun ammunition- except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors – totally illegal.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “We are not for disarming people. When you have an epidemic it’s a public health issue, a safety issue.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “Unless they’re a fugitive or a felon, or adjudicated mentally ill, we’re not against them buying guns at all.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “A year later, I still certainly feel we need the ban.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    “This administration has been the greatest of friends to us. We had worked for seven years to get this Brady Bill passed … it wasn’t until Bill Clinton came along that it became an issue in a campaign for the presidency and then, much to our thrill and surprise, it one of the number one priorities for the administration.”
    Sarah Brady quote

    She pretty much sums up the goal of gun control.

  5. Ben Stein: Stricter gun laws won’t cut shootings
    Comment 8 Shares Tweets Stumble Email More +
    (CBS News) Let’s start with a few facts about guns and shootings and deaths.

    Lately, there have been far too many shootings of innocent people by crazy people. We can go back to Virginia Tech or Tucson, Ariz., or look just recently to Aurora, Colo., and to Wisconsin and the Sikh Temple.

    Too many crazy, homicidal people have lethal weapons. And you might say there should be very strict gun control – and for crazy people, there should be.

    On the other hand, you might look at this little set of facts.

    In Sandpoint, North Idaho, where I live for most of the summer, it’s extremely easy to buy a gun. You can buy them at stores and at gun shows, or just at yard sales. Yet there are almost no gun deaths in Bonner County, Idaho.

    The last ones of note in North Idaho were done by the FBI at Ruby Ridge, and that’s a different story.

    On the other hand, in my beloved Los Angeles, where I live most of the year, there’s extremely strict gun control. It’s a real project to buy a gun.

    Here, we have gang shootings and death by guns on a terrifying scale. In my native city of Washington, D.C., the same goes: Strict gun control and lots of shootings.

    The same goes for Chicago. Strict gun control and a lot of killing.

    Obviously, Sandpoint, Idaho, is a very much calmer place than Chicago, and I’m not saying that people in Chicago should be allowed to just tote guns in their cars the way many can, and do, in North Idaho.

    But my point is that there is nothing easy or simple about the relationship between gun control and crime. If a man had started shooting in a crowd in North Idaho, probably several men in the crowd would have shot him down immediately. Maybe a woman, too.

    I’m not for vigilante law enforcement. But I am also not for government disarming everyone but criminals.

    I have never understood the flaw in the argument that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. And, of course, there are already laws against murder.

    The whole problem of guns and killings is complex, and saying “gun control,” or being angry at the NRA simply does not get us very far.

    I wish I had a better solution, but I don’t, and as far as I know neither does anyone else.

    Ben Stein is hardly a gun nut and he sees through the smoke screen.

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