There Will Always Be a Bridge

Bryan Miller is once again blaming Pennsylvania for crime in New Jersey:

This one-way traffic in illegal guns is even clearer and more damaging in Camden, connected to Philadelphia by two major bridges, as a greater portion of its crime guns come from PA than is the case for the rest of NJ. According to Camden County Acting Prosecutor Joshua Ottenberg, 25% of crime guns recovered in Camden in 2006 came from PA. He said: “Any town that has a bridge is obviously going to feel more of an impact…” So, Delaware River towns, Camden and Trenton, each only a bridge ride away from PA and its vibrant illegal gun market, suffer disproportionately.

New Jersey has effectively extinguished lawful gun ownership.  Only about 12% of households owned guns in The Garden State.  Only Hawaii, which never had much of a shooting tradition, has a lower percentage of household firearms ownership.  Pennsylvania’s household firearms ownership rate is much higher, at 35%.  A fairly sizable portion of shooters at my gun club are from New Jersey.  They come here, because there just aren’t many places to shoot over on their side of the river anymore.  The past several decades has seen range after range, club after club, and gun shop after gun shop, close its doors and fold up, and more and more people chose to either leave the state, or give up gun ownership, rather than face the sea of regulations, and the risk that screwing up could land you very serious time in prison.

There’s very little doubt that criminals will follow the path of least resistance when it comes to acquiring firearms, and it’s easier to smuggle them from other jurisdictions than it is to start making firearms in garages and basements.  I don’t dispute this.  What I do dispute is that creating restrictive laws elsewhere is going to have an effect on anything other than trafficking patterns.  Even if you outlawed them nationwide, there will always be a bridge, and it’s not hard to manufacture firearms to begin with, even in a war zone like Chechnya.  The real question isn’t whether gun control affects trafficking patterns, but whether it effects crime, and there’s never been any conclusive evidence that it does.  Let’s take a look at crime rates between New Jersey and Pennsylvania:

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Traditionally, New Jersey has had a much higher violent crime rate than Pennsylvania, and it’s only been since New York’s revival that New Jersey’s crime rate has dropped significantly.  This makes sense, because as much as criminals cross borders to commit the crime of smuggling firearms, they also cross borders to commit violent crimes.  New Jersey’s crime would no doubt be even lower if Philadelphia could get its act together, since New Jersey has no large cities of its own.  Many of its smaller cities are among the most violent in the nation.  Far worse than Philadelphia itself.  Bryan can argue all he wants that Pennsylvania needs to “destroy the village in order to save it” in regards to our shooting heritage, but there will always be a bridge.  Criminals will find ways to get guns, and it’s not going to do much to lower crime.

10 thoughts on “There Will Always Be a Bridge”

  1. Maybe the Pennsylvania National Guard could wire the bridges for demolition as a defense plan. Switzerland and Belgium do it to their bridges and tunnels leading into Germany…

  2. Since Delaware doesn’t even have the “non-registry” handgun sales registry, anyone ask Bryan how it is that Delaware isn’t the number one state for NJ’s criminals? You would think DE would be a more attractive black-market source since secondary sales there are completely unregulated.

  3. It’s an interesting question that I put out there last time Bryan brought up this issue. I don’t have an answer for it, and I suspect Bryan doesn’t either. It blows a hole in the theory that gun laws are the independent variable at work here.

    This is kind of a funny thing to think about, but you would also imagine that gun runners buying multiple firearms, worth thousand and thousands of dollars, would want to save on the sales tax too. But Delaware is not a large source of traced crime guns. Why?

    This is pure speculation on my part, but I’m going to suggest it’s because Delaware has a smaller population of criminals engaged in firearms trafficking. It’s just a matter of sheer numbers. Philadelphia is a much larger city, with a much larger number of criminals who are willing to illegally traffic in firearms.

  4. Re: Delaware — the river’s a lot wider downstream — easier to defend.

  5. Hey, NJ can always toss Volkswagens at Philly from Camden Waterfront if they get sufficiently annoyed :) Tomahawks too if they can scrape a few up.

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