On November 5, 1999, Reuters carried a story headlined "Colorado
Residents Want Stricter Gun Laws". According to the item, "Though we
may not be able to stop Honolulu or Seattle", said Denver Mayor Wellington
Webb referring to that week's spate of workplace violence, "we need to have
regulations...to lessen the proliferation of guns on the street".
Sound familiar? It ought to. "Proliferation of guns" and its
constant companion, "easy availability", are the latest buzzwords of
the anti-self-defense lobby. It's nearly impossible to pick up a paper or watch
the news without hearing the demand for more gun laws that, we are promised,
will reduce firearm-related violence.
The mental picture we're asked to paint is one of truckloads of Uzis rolling
down the streets of America in broad daylight, and guns handed out like free
samples at the local supermarket.
But "proliferation of guns" and "easy availability" are
code words used to disguise the existence of the black market, and the failure
of more than 20,000 gun control laws already on the books.
In all of today's rhetoric, one key fact is almost always ignored: this
"easy availability" or "proliferation" of guns is true only
when it pertains to the black market in firearms. And that black market is a
direct result of previous laws which, we were also promised, would reduce the
criminal use of guns.
Cracking the secret code used to hide the truth is simple. Just substitute
"black market" every time one of these phrases is uttered. For
example, writing on "The Epidemic in Youth Violence", anti-gun
researcher Philip Cook observed that "gun possession was much more
widespread among violence-prone youths in the early 1990s than in the early
1980s...Gun use may be driven in part by the availability of guns on the
Or, take Mayor Webb's words and make the substitution: "We need to have
regulations...to lessen black market guns on the street".
These statements point to the fatal flaw in schemes to regulate or ban
firearms: restrict legal channels, and all that will change is the pattern of
The purpose of this deliberate deception is easy to see. By diverting the
real blame away from juvenile offenders, guilty politicians, and
politically-motivated researchers - and onto peaceable gun-owners, instead - it
sets the stage to justify harsh new restrictions.
Spawned from a glitch in U.S. crime data, the so-called "epidemic"
of juvenile violence derives from a single fact: between 1984 and 1993, the rate
at which homicides were committed by adolescents aged 13 to 17 quadrupled. And
that increase is accounted for, almost exactly, by the increase in homicides
committed with guns.
But it is the crime confined to geographically narrow inner-city neighborhood
areas - often just "a small number of city blocks", according to the
U.S. Department of Justice - that has been driving the entire youth homicide
The recent spate of U.S. school shootings played right into the hands of the
firearm-prohibitionists, by allowing them to paint a counterfeit picture of
juvenile "gun-violence" sweeping across all the streets of America.
Their antidote was predictable, and spelled out, in no uncertain terms, by
Michael Tonry and Mark Moore in "Youth Violence", a 1998 U.S.
Department of Justice compendium of articles on the subject:
"[We must]...treat the availability of weapons as a key contributing
factor...If the availability of guns could...be suppressed, the extent and
virulence of the epidemic [of juvenile violence] could be stemmed...this
could, arguably, hold out the hope that we need not succeed in the expensive,
arduous, chancy, long-run task of keeping youths on healthy developmental
trajectories to prevent youth violence."
One can hear a deep sigh of relief from Tonry and Moore as they declare a new
war on guns, in an attempt to wash their hands of the mess they helped create.
But they're all guilty, as charged, and deserve no sympathy, for they know, full
well, what the policies they've championed have wrought.
They know, too, that the "logic" connecting the problem, its cause,
and the proposed solution are flawed. For what they don't bother telling us is
that the "epidemic" of juvenile violence is limited to areas where
decades of restrictive gun regulations have rendered lawful firearm ownership
virtually impossible, with an outcome exactly opposite to what we were promised.
Witness the fact that "the St. Louis youth gang homicide rate is [now]
1,000 times higher than the [overall] U.S. homicide rate", according to
U.S. Department of Justice statistics. And all of this was accomplished with
guns from the black market.
In November 1999, Dr. Alan Lizotte presented the findings of an ongoing study
on juvenile delinquency in Rochester, N.Y., to the American Society of
Criminology. Lizotte noted that "obtaining a pistol permit in New York is
no easy matter," and characterized the state's law as "tough".
Nevertheless, Lizotte's conclusion ran true to the familiar pattern of false
promise followed by abject failure, the signature of every gun law:
"There is nearly universal non-compliance with New York's strict
handgun licensing law...illegal handguns are easy to obtain".
Lizotte never once mentioned "black market". He didn't have to. His
references to the "underground economy" told what most of us already
know, and what people like Tonry and Moore do, also.
Underscoring that point, in New York City, where requirements for ownership
of firearms of all types are far more stringent than throughout the rest of the
state, and licensing is required for possession of both handguns and long guns,
current estimates peg the number of "unlicensed" firearms at 2
million, or more, out of a population of 7 million.
Another "tough" gun law was enacted on November 30, 1998. This time
it was a federal law. Under the National Instant-Check System, every firearm
transaction in America involving a licensed dealer is now subject to government
scrutiny and approval.
Just like with past laws, NICS was supposed to finally close the
"loopholes" which allow criminals access to guns. It was a fraud, of
course, because the stated goal is simply beyond reach.
The New York Connection
Barely one year after the advent of NICS, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and
his cronies set about to perpetrate yet another fraud. In November 1999, Schumer
announced his next "new" solution: federal legislation to eliminate
private transfers of all firearms, including gifts between family members. Bill
Clinton, in his final State of the Union address on January 27, 2000, went even
further, calling for the licensing of all handgun owners.
Canada already tried that. The day after NICS went into effect, it
implemented a "tough" gun law of its own, the Firearms Act. The
reality of Canada's new system of national firearm registration was summed up by
journalist Lorne Gunter in the October 31, 1999 edition of the Edmonton Journal:
"Thanks to Justice Minister Anne McLellan's hysterically rigid
insistence that each and every gun sale, even these neighbour-to-neighbour
sales, be approved by her department in advance, nearly all these sales are
now so-called black market sales...In the nearly 11 months since the Liberals
imposed their universal registry... black market gun sales have boomed."
More restrictions mean only one thing - more business on the black market,
and even easier access for criminals. The equation is simple: if people want
something badly enough, someone will supply it for a profit.
For many of America's firearm-prohibitionists, the real goal has never been a
safer society. To them, success is achieved, not by reducing crime, but by
enacting a law which is certain to fail. Of course, when it does, we'll need a
new remedy, won't we?
And when it comes to firearms, their next new "remedy" is not hard
Dr. Joanne D. Eisen is engaged in the private practice of Family Dentistry.
She is President, Association of Dentists for Accuracy in Scientific Media (ADASM),
a national organization of dentists concerned with preserving the integrity of
the professional dental literature, against the politicization which has
corrupted America's medical literature.
Dr. Paul Gallant is engaged in the private practice of Family Optometry,
Wesley Hills, NY. He is Chairman, Committee for Law-Abiding Gun-Owners, Rockland
(LAGR), a 2nd Amendment grassroots group, based in Rockland County, NY.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: LAGR P.O. Box 354