Why the Bad Guys are Useful to Gun-Control Groups

posted on March 25, 2024
man being arrested
Photo: Kali9/Getty

When the horrid actions of violent criminals make headlines, President Joe Biden (D) and other gun-control-supporting politicians point an accusatory finger at the freedom enjoyed by the law-abiding. They pretend that lawfully armed citizens are the cause of crime. To such politicians and gun-control groups, the actions of violent criminals offer a useful excuse for them to implement more control over the populace.

To illustrate this point, let’s first ask where criminals get guns.

How Criminals Get Guns
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with state and federal prisoners between January and October 2016 as part of its 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI). The survey collected information from prisoners on a variety of topics, including firearm possession during the crime for which a prisoner was serving and how the firearm was used during the crime. It also collected information on the method, source and process that prisoners used to obtain the firearm.

“Among prisoners who possessed a firearm during the offense for which they were imprisoned, 7% of state and 10% of federal prisoners serving a sentence in 2016 bought or traded for the firearm from a gun shop or gun store,” the study stated. “About 1 percent (0.8%) bought or traded for the firearm at a gun show.”

According to the survey, about 21% of state and 20% of federal prisoners said they possessed a gun during their offense, and about 29% of state and 36% of federal prisoners serving time for a violent offense possessed a gun during the offense. Among prisoners who possessed a firearm when they committed the offense for which they were imprisoned and who reported the source from which they obtained it, the most-common source (43%) was off the street or the underground market. Another 7% of state and 5% of federal prisoners stole the firearm, and 7% of state and 8% of federal prisoners reported that they obtained the firearm at the location of the crime. About a quarter (26%) of state prisoners and about a fifth (21%) of federal prisoners obtained their firearm from an individual in another non-retail setting, such as a friend or family member. So about 90% of the armed criminals obtained their guns in a manner other than going through a retail outlet. Presumably, those who did get a gun from a licensed gun dealer either passed the background check or had someone illegally “straw-purchase” it for them—these are potential crimes agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) are supposed to investigate.

The 2016 survey information wasn’t much different from results of a similar survey released in 2004. Results then showed that about 77% of criminals surveyed had acquired their firearms on the street, through illegal sources or from a friend or family member.

According to the 2016 survey, 43% of criminals purchased their guns on the black market, and 6% attained them through theft. The offender had someone else illegally buy the firearm on their behalf in 11% of cases, known as a “straw purchase.” Contrary to the so-called “gun-show loophole” narrative so often spun in gun-control circles, according to this data, again a mere 0.8% obtained a firearm from such an event.

Gang and non-gang members, as per a recent study published by the National Library of Medicine, typically use “brokers” with ties to gun traffickers and pay a nominal extra fee to obtain their firearms. Many of these firearms have been stolen.

Despite all this data, Biden and others focus on passing yet more gun-control laws—restrictions that mostly punish the law-compliant.

Los Angeles, Chicago and  Las Vegas each possess arrest rates of less than 20% for crimes committed  by armed criminals

Shouldn’t They Focus on the Bad Guys?
The head-scratching reality here is that many of the laws already on the books are not being adequately enforced. The data indicates that cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago and Las Vegas each possess arrest rates of less than 20% for crimes committed with guns, and the odds are that if police don’t solve a gun-related crime within the initial 24 hours, it won’t be solved at all.

Now, every felon arrested in possession of a firearm in the U.S. is guilty of another felony, a charge that carries a possible 10-year sentence; however, data from the U.S. Sentencing Commission shows that only a tiny number of these cases (around 7,000) are prosecuted federally each year.

What these same gun-control figureheads conveniently ignore is that the vast majority of crimes committed in the U.S. are done by a relatively small number of career criminals. DOJ figures show that prisoners in state custody boast an average of five convictions and 10 arrests on their records, and the overwhelming number of violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders. In New York, 81% of murder suspects—and 72% of victims—had been arrested previously. In Chicago, 87% of the homicide assailants have police records showing an average of 12 previous arrests, and about a third of the murderers in Baltimore are on probation when they kill someone.

Indeed, failing to deal with recidivism is one of the central drivers of armed violent crime across the country. This is only made worse by today’s “woke prosecutors.” In a bid to tear down the so-called “racist” law-enforcement system, big donors and gun-control advocates have pushed to eradicate cash bail wherever possible.

“Woke prosecutors across the country are more concerned with pushing a political agenda than keeping citizens safe,” said Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.).

Thomas Cunninghan, a retired ATF supervisory special agent, also emphasized that “zero bail is a colossal failure.”

“In New York City alone, there is a 78% recidivism for gun crime,” said Cunninghan. “Several people were arrested and released for illegal gun possession or unlawfully discharging a firearm. After their release, they went on to commit a homicide. We need to focus on the true victims of gun crime and not on coddling the suspects.”

Also, according to Craig Caine, a former U.S. Marshals’ Service inspector and member of the Eastern District of New York & NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, criminals are back on the streets within hours of being released. These criminals often commit new crimes.

“These justice and social reforms are just a way for the politicians to feel better about themselves, and they create an unending loop that the criminals thrive on,” he said.

This isn’t a coincidence—it’s a strategy.

Billionaire George Soros donated millions of dollars to local district-attorney campaigns in 2022 and 2023 and spent over $40 million in the last decade to elect far-Left prosecutors in our nation’s largest jurisdictions, including in Los Angeles and Philadelphia.

At the same time, homicide rates, according to Police1.com, have risen by an average of roughly 10% in 45 of the most-populated U.S. cities between 2021 and 2023. About 72 million Americans, around 20% of the population, were in jurisdictions governed by a Soros-supported prosecutor in 2022.

Chicago is a tragic example. In Chicago, law-enforcement officers made arrests in just 12% of crimes documented in 2021 to 2022, the lowest level since 2001, which was the first year the data was collected and made publicly available. And, despite the windy city’s well-known violent-crime problem, the number of offenders who are put behind bars has also been decreasing.

Moreover, the Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice at Loyola (CCJRP) found that, in 2017, some 71% of those convicted of a Class 4 felony firearms possession in Cook County, Ill., were sentenced to jail time. But, just two years later, that figure had shrunk to 35%.

Sadly, this striking failure to curb crime by removing criminals from the streets is hardly unique to Chicago.

In New Orleans, former Innocence Project attorney turned assistant district attorney, Emily Maw, came under scrutiny for refusing to press charges in more than 15 armed-criminal cases that occurred over Mardi Gras. While Maw is a champion of gun control, she pushed to ensure her office did not prosecute these people for their crimes.

IN PHILADELPHIA, an armed criminal has a two-out-of-three  chance of simply walking away after  committing a firearms-related offense.

Similarly, according to the NYPD Lieutenants Benevolent Association, the New York Police Department arrested 4,456 people on gun charges in 2021, yet prosecutors immediately tossed over 1,200 of those cases. By the year’s end, 1,784 cases remained open, and a paltry 711 had produced a criminal conviction, mainly in plea deals. Only one—one out of a whopping 4,456—resulted in a conviction from a trial. And still, the state’s far-Left leaders want us to believe they are taking violent crime seriously, all while advocating for law-abiding Americans practicing their constitutional rights to surrender their arms and come under even more stringent gun-control laws.

Furthermore, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office data shows that a criminal slapped with a gun charge is now twice as likely to have their case waived when compared to 2016. In that year, about 30% of gun cases in the city were thrown out or withdrawn. Yet by 2021, as the “woke” movement took greater hold, that number doubled to 60%. Thus, a gun-brandishing criminal has a two-out-of-three chance of simply walking away after committing an offense with a firearm.

This isn’t the result of the police not doing their job. That same year, police made arrests for possessing an illegal firearm at almost three times the rate of four years earlier. Yet in more than half the cases, prosecutors failed to take any further action. Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw blasted the state’s criminal-justice system as a “revolving door” for recurrent offenders. At the same time, law-abiding gun owners are accused of being the problem.

An investigation by The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that conviction numbers for those illegally caught with a firearm fell after the Soros-supported DA Larry Krasner was sworn into office at the beginning of 2018. The paper’s analysis revealed that four out of five shootings in the city do not bring about charges.

Then there is the Soros-bolstered Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón (D). He came under public censure in March 2023 when he refused to issue charges against an aspiring murderer who allegedly posted threats against a school and was then busted with stolen firearms. A local police chief, Scott Fairfield of Bell Gardens, subsequently demanded that the case be reviewed, lamenting that Gascón declined to “prosecute juveniles in possession of firearms.”

Gascón has also been criticized for his controversial “no-bail” policies. After being allowed back on the streets with reduced charges, gang members killed two Los Angeles Police Department officers in 2022. All the while, Gascón avidly lauds California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) gun-control bills. Like other Soros-backed officials, he wants to penalize law-abiding citizens while letting criminals walk.

Caine pointed out that it is hard to fathom what “new gun laws,” without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens, are possibly left to pass, especially when brazen criminals can avoid charges.

“There are enough laws on the books,” said Caine. “It’s the refusal of Leftist district attorneys and judges to throw the book at the perpetrators who commit crimes with guns that is making this worse.”

In some cases, citizens are starting to see through this. In San Francisco, District Attorney Chesa Boudin (D) was recalled and removed from office in the summer of 2022 as crime rose to an untenable level. His replacement, Brooke Jenkins, told the press that “we have to send a strong message that repeat offenders will face the consequences for their actions if they continue to choose a life of crime.”

Despite all these hard facts on where criminals obtain their firearms and how and why they continue to terrorize residents, America’s federal agencies fare poorly when it comes to acknowledging these truths and recognizing that the law-abiding gun owners are not to blame.

Instead, Biden’s ATF has been focused in recent years on increasing restrictions on law-abiding citizens. Indeed, ATF Director Steven Dettelbach announced during a recent speech on “Gun Violence in America” at Harvard University that he agreed with gun-control proponents and President Biden on banning popular semi-automatic rifles and implementing intrusive universal background checks. (The ATF did not respond to a request for further comment.)

Biden’s DOJ, and the agencies like the ATF beneath it, continue to push new forms of gun control—including the recent and unlawful pistol-brace rule—to nonsensically go after ordinary Americans instead of pursuing gun-toting criminals.

“Guns have been around since the birth of our nation. It’s not the gun, but the criminals who get their hands on them, that’s the issue,” said Caine. “Soft-on-crime policies, not enforcing the law to the fullest extent and light sentences just embolden the criminals to do more violence.”



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