The Corner

Huge Surprise: Criminals Tend to Get Their Guns Illegally

Thanks to the good folks at Powerline, I came across this study that surveyed Cook County, Illinois, prisoners and asked where they obtained their firearms. The results are below:

Note how few purchases come from gun stores. The key findings included:

Our respondents (adult offenders living in Chicago or nearby) obtain most of their guns from their social network of personal connection. Rarely is the proximate source either direct purchase from a gun store, or theft. Only about 60% of guns in the possession of respondents were obtained by purchase or trade. Other common arrangements include sharing guns and holding guns for others.

In other words, criminals aren’t walking into gun shops or gun shows but rather seeking weapons from people they know and trust — people who know full well that they’re giving or selling a gun to someone who can’t legally own it. As Powerline’s John Hinderaker points out, it’s already a crime to “knowingly transfer a gun to someone who is disqualified from owning it because of a criminal record or other circumstances.” The idea that they’ll suddenly stop transferring or selling these guns if they’re also required to run a background check is almost comical. As usual, Glenn Reynolds is right. “It’s as if all the “anti crime” gun-control proposals we hear were mostly meant to make it harder for ordinary, law-abiding people to buy guns.”

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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