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.