2/26/2010

Glenn Beck and gun registration



Glenn Beck is a fairly brilliant guy and he deals in this show with a lot more than guns, but I think that this is one case that he could make his argument stronger with respect to gun control. Registration programs in Hawaii, DC, and Chicago can't point to any crimes that have been solved as a result of registration. In Canada, the government claimed that since the 1930s it could point to three handgun crimes that registration solved. I believe that long gun registration still hasn't solved any crimes in Canada. (All these figures are from a few years ago, but I don't believe that anything has changed.)

Why? The theory is that if a gun is registered and it is left at the scene, it could theoretically be traced back to the owner. There are a couple of problems with that. 1) Crime guns are virtually never left at the scene of the crime. When they are left at the scene it is almost always because the criminal has been seriously wounded or killed, and thus you are going to catch the criminal anyway. 2) Even when the crime guns are left at the scene they turn out not to be registered to the criminal who left them at the scene.

While Beck has few equals in getting ideas across to people, I think that he is making a mistake in this case by letting the debate be set up as freedom versus safety. Freedom and safety go together at least in this case. Registration raises the costs of law-abiding citizens getting guns relative to criminals. Of course, if guns are eventually confiscated as discussed in the show, gun bans only end up with criminals having guns.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Angela said...

You've got contacts at Fox - you should try to get him to interview you on this!

2/26/2010 11:57 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

Having served as a police officer for nearly two decades, may I point out several salient issues regarding gun registration?

(1) In the very rare event that a gun is left at a crime scene, registration will only reveal the original owner/purchaser of the weapon and their address at the time of purchase. Even if that owner was responsible for a given crime, the fact that they purchased the weapon many years before the crime is essentially useless in terms of prosecution. Unless the police can prove that the weapon was in the hand of a given individual at a given place and time and was used in an illegal manner, registration is useless. Because anyone can understand that a criminal might have stolen a handgun and its owner, thinking it still in a box in the closet after many years, never noticed the theft, there is a built in reasonable doubt issue for any defense attorney.

(2) As you've so properly pointed out, it is very rare indeed to find a weapon left at a crime scene. The overwhelming majority of crimes are solved through the old, good police work expedient of simply talking to people.

(3) And as you certainly know and have written, a large percentage of the guns used in crime are stolen or otherwise illicitly obtained, rendering any registration trail meaningless.

(4) I hesitate to add that only the law abiding would bother to register weapons, through lawful initial purchase or otherwise.

Of course, those who are pushing registration have motives that are anything but public safety.

2/28/2010 12:49 AM  

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