If Guns are Cheap, Criminals Will Have Guns

by Mike Kimel

If Guns are Cheap, Criminals Will Have Guns

If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. We’ve all heard that many times. But is it true? Well, it is certainly a tautology. But there is another way to ensure that outlaws have guns. Namely, keep them cheap.

From the 2009 Firearms Used in the Commission of Crimes focusing specifically on guns used in the commission of crimes in rural parts of California:

Of the 147 firearms examined, there were 120 (81.6
percent) handguns, 13 (8.8 percent) rifles, 11 (7.5 percent) shotguns,
and 3 (2 percent) machine guns.

The 2010 version of the same report paints a similar picture:

Of the 175 firearms reported, there were 158 (90.3 percent) handguns, 12 (6.9 percent) rifles, 4 (2.3 percent) shotguns, and 1 (0.6 percent) full-auto firearm.

The reason handguns are more often used in the commission of a crime than other types of weapons is not because the typical criminal doesn’t think it would be tres cool to use a belt fed machine gun or a shoulder launched missile. Its because those types of weapons are very, very hard to come by. With some digging, you can get your hands on a belt fed machine gun, but you are very unlikely to do it for less than $10K for a cheapo model. Instead, what often happens is that armed criminals are most often armed with what one can best be described as lousy guns. Don’t believe me? Here is a post from someone who clearly cannot be described as pro-gun control, commenting on the list of top ten guns used in crimes according to the ATF.

Descriptions include:

An absolute piece of crap that sells for less than $120 retail. No real shooter would even warrant this “gun” as a legitimate target to even shoot at.

Here’s another:

Another piece of shit that sells for less than $110 retail, and is worth less than the pipsqueak ammunition you can try to feed it.

And another:

The cheapest 12-guage on the market, designed for people who cannot afford a real shotgun. Not even close to being considered a “fighting” shotgun. No offense to Mossberg, but there is a reason that  these Wal-Mart grade firepoles are given away at Ducks Unlimited as door prizes. Most do (and should) end up being traded up at gun shops for real shotguns.

Some of the other descriptions are even more creative. My favorite is number ten on the list:

This one takes the cake as the “most prone to never fire, ever” firearm that was ever produced. Apparently they had a street price of $60 in Miami at one point, which would have been better spent on a wristrocket or a billyclub if you planned to actually use one in a legitimate crime. They eventually had to fight lawsuits from prosecutors and criminals at the same time because of their inherent defectiveness.

To quote that post further:

Though most teenage gangbangers wouldn’t be caught dead with a Smith and Wesson .38 revolver, an old fashioned six shooter, it nonetheless claims the lead on the top ten list. That’s because there are literally millions in existence; Smith and Wesson introduced the .38 in 1899, and since then, models have proliferated, transforming the name “Smith and Wesson .38″ into a generic label for a particular style of gun, even clones that aren’t made by Smith and Wesson. Similarly, the Smith and Wesson .357 revolver, which was introduced in 1935, and the venerable Mossberg shotgun made the list based on the sheer volume in circulation.

But street criminals are interested almost exclusively in semiautomatics, preferring their superior firepower. (Semiautomatics hold at least seven and often as many as ten or twelve rounds of ammunition. –Or 18 if you can spend the extra dinero made from a 7-11 heist on a Beretta)

Gun traffickers like to peddle cheap semiautomatics to teenagers because they can tack on a hefty mark-up (of ten bucks) and still offer a weapon that costs less than an upscale gun like a Ruger or Smith and Wesson semiautomatic. That’s why inexpensive semiautomatics dominate the top ten list. As it happens, many of the companies on that list have links to George Jennings, founder of the now-defunct Raven Arms and his clan. Jennings’ son Bruce founded Bryco in 1992. According to the ATF, Jennings’ son-in-law Jim Davis founded Davis Industries, and Lorcin Engineering was launched by Jim Waldorf, Bruce Jennings’ high school friend. These companies and several others also linked to Jennings are known in the trade as the “ring of fire.”

The point is, criminals use the guns they do because they’re available, and the guns that are available are usually available because they’re cheap.

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