With this in mind, I came across the following letter in today's Inquirer:
Gun limits don't workTo me, this letter illustrates the reason why nothing gets done on this issue. I have neither the time nor the desire to research Seidenberg's claims, which I suppose are valid, though I would expect that details and context are missing in his argument that could swing it to a pro-one-gun-a-month position. But since the point of this post isn't really to pick a fight with him, I'll concede that he could be correct statistically.
Your paper continues to call for limiting handgun purchases to one per month, saying that will reduce the number of handguns in criminals' hands and the number of murders.
Unfortunately, the facts don't support your position.
According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, Philadelphia had a murder rate of 18.9 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2002, but cities in states that have more restrictive gun laws actually have higher murder rates.
The murder rate in Newark was 23.3 in 2002, even though it is extremely difficult to purchase a handgun legally in New Jersey. The murder rate in Baltimore was 37.7, even though Maryland has the same one-gun-per-month law you claim is so necessary to reduce the murder rate in our city.
Statistically speaking, there is no correlation between stricter handgun purchasing laws and lower murder rates. The numbers in New Jersey and Maryland may even suggest that the exact opposite is true.
However, as I read his letter, something occurred to me.
Where are the cops on this issue?
Why is it that the people leading the charge for the one-gun-a-month law to severely restrict "straw" purchases (where somebody buys a gun and resells it on the street) are grieving parents, family, friends, local community activists, newspaper columnists, and individuals such as your humble narrator? Wouldn't a statement in support of a tougher law from the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police, for example, help our case considerably?
And please understand that I'm not trying to slam law enforcement here. I am grateful for the sacrifice made by these men and women to keep us safe, the majority of whom are highly skilled individuals doing the right thing. Besides, with my job, often the worst thing I have to deal with is inter-office political BS, insane deadlines, and traffic headaches. The worst thing our police have to deal with is the possibility that they may end their work day in the morgue.
I see no reason not to give one-gun-a-month a try, preferably with a high-profile assist from men and women in uniform. Besides, if we can prove conclusively that somehow it doesn't work or doesn't reduce homicides, we can repeal it. After all, we don't have a problem with getting laws repealed in this state, do we?
Update 7/6: I guess this answers one of my questions, at least concerning gun laws in Indiana.
So let me get this straight; for the added revenue to the state police that would come their way due to higher gun fees, the tradeoff is that a handgun could be stolen or otherwise used in the commission of a crime, and the police may never know that unless the owner notifies them because the owner of the gun has a lifetime permit? That doesn't sound like much of a trade to me (and the "good" people can turn into "bad" people in a second, though Varner of the NRA will never acknowledge that).