Gun Control Theater

As a step towards reducing the number of gun homicides, in his latest New York Times column Nikolas Kristof proposes the following:

But there is a way to stem the tide of a new type of gun that is proliferating unchecked. President Biden can use executive action to crack down on “ghost guns,” which avoid regulation and serial numbers because they are sold unfinished or as kits.

“Ghost guns have taken off, and they’re untraceable,” said Dr. Garen Wintemute, a gun violence expert at the University of California at Davis. Law enforcement agencies recovered about 10,000 ghost guns in 2019, and they account for 30 percent of all firearms taken in gun trafficking investigations in California. Ghost guns have been used in at least three mass shootings in California, Wintemute said.

White nationalists have seized upon the chance to build secret arsenals through ghost guns. Last year, a supporter of the extremist boogaloo movement allegedly used a ghost weapon to kill a law enforcement officer, and the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, also had ghost guns.

I have no opposition to that measure although I would prefer that the Congress enact a law against “ghost guns” which President Biden could then sign into law.

However, I wonder if Mr. Kristof has reasonable expectations for the results of such a law? There are many ways of obtaining firearms that are less expensive than “ghost guns”. Most frequently the guns used in crimes are either stolen or gifts from family and friends. IMO a better way to “stop the parade of gun deaths” would be to crack down on such gifts. Some states have laws requiring all firearms to be sold through licensed dealers. That seems to me to be a commonsense measure for controlling the sale of firearms.

Here in Chicago in 2021 year-to-date there have been 142 gun homicides, 7 on Easter Sunday alone. We’re on track to have the bloodiest year in our history relative to population. By far the greatest number of victims were young black men (83.3% of victims were black; the ratio of men killed to women killed is about 6:1). It is assumed that the perpetrators of these crimes were mostly young, black men as well although practically no perpetrators have been identified for any of these killings.

Offhand I’d speculate that none of those homicides used a “ghost gun”. Note that Mr. Kristof identified one instance of a “ghost gun” having been used in a homicide last year. That’s .001% of homicides.

7 comments… add one
  • Grey Shambler Link

    My earlier comment on fingerprint ID or even facial recognition handguns arose from the indisputable fact that we cannot uninvent anything. So, we need to invent better. As you noted many handguns are stolen. Judging from police reports locally, many from unlocked vehicles.
    But, then, theatre.
    White Nationalists, ghost guns, mass murder. Headlines! Votes!

  • walt moffett Link

    Well, he met his word count and probably has enough metrics to justify his next column.

    FWIW, if they are serious about gun control, its time to roll up the sleeves and begin the long hard slog it will be. Fantasies of magic executive actions, mass social worker deployments, the healing power of dance, etc won’t get it.

  • Andy Link

    Banning “ghost guns” will probably work about as well as banning marijuana has, especially as 3D printing continues to get better and better.

  • Drew Link

    WM is correct. Writing columns or giving speeches about laws regarding guns, Casper’s or not, is easy. The work of teasing apart the social pathologies of the underclass and the criminal element, much less solving them, is rather difficult.

  • As they say in the 12 step programs, the first step is admitting there’s a problem. The problem that Mr. Kristof is trying to solve is a very small component of the larger problem which he rather obviously is not willing to admit to.

  • bob sykes Link

    It is amazing the extent to which Kristof goes to avoid the obvious. Ghost guns are simply too few to matter; they are irrelevant. Fifty-five percent of all gun murders and 75% of all mass shootings are committed by young black men. It is likely that there are as few as 100,000 black gang-bangers nationwide. They use stolen or black market 9 mm auto pistols, because they are easily concealed and readily available. Surely that is a solvable problem. And solving it would make life in the black ghettos substantially better. Yet black and white liberal politicians, like Kristof, actively protect the shooters from justice.

    Our Ruling Class, including Kristof, is literally psychotic and delusional.

  • jan Link

    Gun control is one of many issues that has become disarmingly off center and too politicized, making it much more difficult to reach solutions that help decrease gun deaths. Gun laws already established are ignored. Areas besieged by accelerating gun violence are downplayed. Racism is far too often deployed to distort root problems behind gun violence.

    Basically, much like many of our wedge issues today are addressed, political gamesmanship seems to preempt political statesmanship, making posturing more prevalent than honest problem-solving.

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