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A Quick Response

I know some people pooh pooh e-mail as being a poor means of communication with representatives, but I’m impressed that I got such a quick response from Representative Daylin Leach on the issue I e-mailed him about, basically outlining the same points I did in the post below. Here’s his response:

I understand your rhetorical point but I think comparing speech to guns (or any right to any other) is apples and oranges. We don’t restrict the number of E-mails because there would be no state interest (“compelling” or otherwise) in doing so. But where there is a compelling interest in restricting speech to preserve public safety, we do so.

In states where it has passed, one-gun-per-month has, at least on a temporal basis (comparing crime rates shortly before and shortly after the law went into effect) shown an average reduction in gun violence of about 30%.

It does seem to be common sense that if I want to go into a store and buy 20 cheap hand-guns to sell on the street, but find I can only buy one, that will mean 19 illegal gun-seekers will be disappointed and have to look elsewhere. Some will find a gun elsewhere right away, some won’t. If all straw-purchasers are similarly affected, it will be increasingly difficult (although certainly not impossible) to buy illegal guns on the street. This will save some (but not all) lives. But if it’s your 6 year old daughter who doesn’t get shot by a stray bullet as she plays on the porch; that will be very important to you.

I think we’ll probably have to agree to disagree on this. Actually, I included e-mail spam as the compelling state reason for limiting people to say, 50 e-mails a month. Who sends 50 e-mails a month? That’s 600 a year. It won’t affect anyone but spammers. Spam costs the economy billions of dollars a year. No compelling state interest in trying to stop that? We don’t accept those kinds of prior restraints on speech, why should we on firearms?

As for the assertion that it has lowered crime, I’m pretty sure he’s confusing that with a study done on ATF tracing data, using a subset of traced firearms in 1996 that appeared in the JAMA. The problem is, ATF has said again and again that its tracing data can’t be used to draw conclusions about crime guns. Therefore, these studies lack a real scientific rigor, because they don’t use a representative example of crime guns. It’s possible, though, that maybe legislators have some data that I don’t have.

Either way, if you look at cities who are in one-gun-a-month jurisdictions, like Baltimore, the crime rate is still atrocious — nearly double that of Philadelphia. Maryland and Virginia are still the largest source of crime guns for Washington DC, which bans all guns, despite the one-gun-a-month law present in both surrounding states. Even if one-gun-a-month has a temporary effect on crime, it would seem that the criminals have no trouble figuring out how to get around it.

So I still question why a law, even if it only affects gun owners at the margins, passes a strict scrutiny test when a) the criminal activity it’s meant to stop is already unlawful, and b) there are is a profound lack of good evidence it actually works.

14 Responses to “A Quick Response”

  1. Lysander says:

    “It does seem to be common sense that if I want to go into a store and buy 20 cheap hand-guns to sell on the street, but find I can only buy one, that will mean 19 illegal gun-seekers will be disappointed and have to look elsewhere.”

    So, anyone wanting to buy more than one handgun per month is, ipso facto, conducting straw purchases for those unable to purchase guns for themselves. I guess that means a plan to buy his-and-hers pistols would be out of the question.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I don’t think he was necessarily implying that. It was an example to show how it will work. Unfortunately, I don’t buy that those 19 criminals will give up. They will find guns elsewhere. I might change how straw purchasers conduct their criminal activities, but it’s not going to make criminals who want guns to go without them. To me, that’s common sense.

  3. Sebastian says:

    If we had one-gun-a-month, I probably would have been affected by it once or twice in the course of my gun nuttery. The typical buyer who’s affected by this stuff is the people who save up to buy a few pieces at the larger gun shows. Collectors are most affected by it, and this law does make an exception for collectors, but C&R guns are a limited subset. It someone collects a type of firearm that’s not considered C&R you’re shit out of luck in terms of one-gun-a-month…. you just have to wait.

  4. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    You could tell him that buying 20 guns would result in a letter being sent to the ATF.

    I could believe that there might be a temporary reduction, but soon the black market will catch up and start supplying weapons again. But if it’s temporary why even do it?

    (I suppose if it has to happen, it’d be best to reduce the number of guns affected — in other words, Lorcin and their ilk would be affected, but no others.)

  5. Sebastian says:

    Because if it just saves one little girl… it’s worth it.

  6. Matt says:

    One gun a month affects me. As does Maryland’s law on regulated arms. I can’t take advantage of deals on ARs, AKs and the like at a show because I have to be subject to the 30 day one-gun-a-month rule and the 8 day waiting period. If you want to buy an “assault” weapon and a handgun in Maryland, it will take you a minimum of 39 days to do it. 30 day clock begins at purchase. So the first 8 day period goes by during the first purchase. On day 31, you can buy the second gun and then wait an additional 8 days.

    So if I want to collect both, I have to ration my own purchases. Or let them sit on the shelf and pick them up on 30 day intervals. But for regular long guns, I can buy as many as I want and walk.

    I’ve lost opportunities because of this because a lot of dealers won’t ship firearms to Maryland FFLs. Period. It doesn’t matter if it is legal. They don’t want the hassle of being on MSP radar if something happens later.

    Virginia is the same but only with handguns and no waiting period. For people without CCWs, I know my dealer has had stacks of bought guns and people pick them up on 30 day intervals.

    I don’t see how one-gun-a-month has every helped. All criminals have to do is get their posse together and figure out which pairs are going to buy and they hit 5 different gun stores as a group instead of one gun store once. If you’re straw purchasing, who cares? The result is the same. 5 guns are hitting the streets. Criminals are resourceful and most know the law and simply work around it. If they are willing to find someone to commit a straw purchase for them once, finding a few more to do it at the same time elsewhere isn’t a stretch.

    If we rationed speech the way politicians would have us ration guns, the airwaves and the Internet would be very quiet places.

  7. Weer'd Beard says:

    Definetly ask him for a citation on that drop in 30% of gun violence. If I buy 20 guns at a shop (not to mention I’d spend most of the day filling out the paperwork for all of them, cheap or no) And I sell them to Thugsly’s gang, the ATF is going to have a VERY clean papertrail leading RIGHT to my door, no matter if I do this in liberal Mass, or Conservative Texas. You think I won’t get asked a few questions when my last 10 gun buys show up in the hands of crack dealers, or I keep reporting guns “stolen”?

    We already have laws in place that red flag such illigal activites. Another instance of “One more law”

    I call Bravo Sierra on that stat!

  8. Lysander says:

    I’ve run into the one-a-month rule as well: no CCW yet. Given that the rule doesn’t apply with the permit, it’s only been my not prioritizing the permit that keeps me subject to the rule.

    Hopefully I can make the range after the Dale City show this weekend.

  9. Gregg says:

    Ingenious way to work on turning that right into a privilege.

  10. Greg says:

    Gun rationing won’t stop criminals. When the Army first started issuing the 9mm Berrettas, an enterprising pair of thugs ambushed an MP & took his. They stopped their car, raised the hood & waited. When the MP came up, they beat him up, took the gun & fled. I don’t know if they were ever caught.

    Fortunately, not all thugs are this innovative, but it does show what lengths a goblin will go to get what they want. You can pile on all the laws you want, they are totally irrelevent to people who don’t believe in law.

  11. Robb Allen says:

    Hell, I’m against this idea but it would have no bearing on me.

    My wife has instituted a 1 gun a year law in our household. The fact I bought 3 this year seems to have caused that new legislation.

  12. demon says:

    It seems that all you have to do to make a bad idea seem good is say that “if it saves just one child”. Thats such a low blow to make everyone think they have to give up rights to save kids. As was said, if you buy 3 or more firearms at the same time the 4473 form is sent to the BATFE, not kept on file at the dealer. Straw purchasers eventually get caught when they buy too many firearms. When they come to look at your firearms after tracing a crime gun back to you, and you don’t have even 1 of the 200 firearms bought in the last year, they will either charge you as an illegal dealer, and or a straw purchaser.

  13. M says:

    Equating a temporary drop in gun availability to effectiveness of a law is misleading at best and dishonest at worst. If a supply route is disrupted there will be a perturbance in the guns available only for long enough to establish new supply lines. Weather these new supply lines are represented as extra straw buyers, out of state gun runs, or increased theft, after a brief reduction the supply will equal demand. So for a short 1 month victory in the reduction of guns available, you now create a new demand that will be in part filled with increased thefts and burglaries. How about a study to see where the new 30% of guns come from and then figuring out if the theft and burglary numbers went up proportionally to the reduction in supply? In otherwords, because the politician is unable or unwilling to tackle the root cause of the problem, the endanger the lifes of other law abiding people.
    But the man said it him self, if it only saves one life then who cares about our rights.

  14. SteVe says:

    We need to find out where that ‘temporal’ statistic comes from so it can be properly debunked.

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