24 March 2008

stolen guns

We never hear about how many guns are stolen from their owners in all this talk about the efficacy of handguns for self-defence. I am curious as to what the actual number is of guns stolen which end up in the hands of criminals. I asked the ATF agent I worked with if they kept statistics on this, but she told me that most traffickers say their guns are stolen.

By definition, stolen guns are available to criminals. I mean who the hell else is going to buy a hot gun other than a criminal? The guns for criminals crowd won't admit to straw purchases or want to prevent people like Steven Kazmierczak and Seung-Hui Cho from buying guns. No, they would rather deal with the aftermath of shootings than attempt at prevention. So, let's just deal with the issue of stolen guns.

Now, there are several thoughts on this. the first of which is that anything which can be taken away from you and ultimately used against you is a lousy tool for self-defence. Even more so if having that object means that you will become a target for crime.

The reason for sci-fi studies such as John Lott and Gary Kleck is that it is a no brainer that having a gun in the house makes it more likely that you may suffer gun injuries. I mean you can't suffer from injuries if you don't have a gun, unless you are hit by a bullet from your neighbour's gun. Likewise, guns aren't the best choice for self-defence if are likely likely to be stolen, or, worse, they make you a target for crime.

Actually, what is interesting is that the Lott and Kleck studies allegedly show people engaging in "criminal behaviour". So, we have most of the alleged defensive gun uses being made by criminals! That's why I am sort of hoping that SCOTUS does find an individual right since it WILL be guns for criminals time! More work for criminal defence attorneys and more criminals with guns on the streets.

So why does the NRA fight laws that require stolen guns are reported to the police? I mean that's rather a no brainer. The first thing I would do if i were robbed is report the crime to the police if only for insurance reasons. I know that gun stores report robberies. I believe they have to as part of their licensing requirements. On the other hand, this law is being fought for no apparent reason.

Unless, of course, this is indeed because the traffickers are saying that their guns are stolen once they turn up at a crime scene. personally, I think the owner should be charged in such an instance if he didn't report it to the police. Given the gun lock argument during the Heller oral arguments, this might not be an issue.

Even sillier are the laws that allow for people to keep guns in their cars. I had my car broken into a few weeks ago in what appeared to be a secure parking garage. And, as a criminal defence lawyer, I know that theft from auto is pretty hard to prosecute. Keeping guns in cars is one of the most idiotic thing to do. Why not hand out guns to criminals in the first place.

But then again, I now call the RKBA crowd "guns for criminals".

The problem is that there are no good statistics for how many guns are stolen. I mean really stolen, as opposed to someone who traffics saying his gun was stolen. The guns for criminals crowd don't want any good data out there regarding crime guns which means this data won't become available. I mean we have Tiahrt blocking gun trace data and the stolen gun data has never been available. Well, there is this little blurb which is pretty much useless:

Victims report to the Victim Survey that
handguns were stolen in 53% of the
thefts of guns. The FBI's stolen gun
file's 2 million reports include information
on ¾
1.26 million handguns (almost 60%)
470,000 rifles (22%)
356,000 shotguns (17%).

Of course, this data doesn't adaquately reflect how many guns are stolen, just reported. And there should be better data available given this is the only source which the guns for criminals crowd will admit. On the other hand, the guns for criminals crowd might get caught feeding the illegal gun supply if they draw too much attention toward thefts.

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