I am of the mindset that some laws need to be set for each state due to specific situations. However, I am also of the mindset that there are fewer problems when consistency is present. Schools have more behavior problems when a few teachers enforce the rules instead of all of them. For students, consistency is important. When students know that “this” behavior will not be accepted by anyone, fewer of them will break those rules. Using this logic, I generally believe that many problems in our country could be improved if we ALL followed the same laws.
Consistency helps everyone. For example, in America, you must be twenty-one before you can legally drink. Period. It doesn’t matter what state you’re from, if you try to buy alcohol, you must prove that you are twenty-one. If you’re driving with a blood-alcohol level higher than .08, you are breaking the law. It doesn’t matter what state you’re from. It doesn’t matter how old you are. Consistency like this helps citizens and police.
In regards to the gun debate, I believe the one area where everyone can agree is that America has a gun-violence problem, and we need to do a better job trying to keep guns out of dangerous hands. To do this, I believe we need universal gun legislation. We need laws that all fifty states follow.
The problem as it stands is that laws are so drastically different town-to-town and state-to-state that the police don’t always know who should and should not have a gun. This makes enforcing the existing laws difficult. Furthermore, “There is a strong association between a state’s gun laws and that state’s propensity to export crime guns.” What this means is that many guns used in crime are actually purchased in a different state, where laws make it easier for dangerous people to buy them. In 2009, over 43,000 guns recovered from crime investigations were traced to purchases in a different state.
As an example of this, let’s take a look at Illinois and Chicago. Gun advocates like to point out that strict gun laws don’t work. Illinois has strict gun laws, and Chicago is one of the most violent cities in the nation, they’ll say. Illinois does have strict laws. In fact, their laws are so strict that they rank in the Top 10 of states with the fewest exported crime guns (guns purchased in Illinois and later used in a crime in a different state). However, their export-to-import ratio is 1:4.3, ranking them third worst in the nation. Translation: People in Illinois travel to a different state, buy a gun, return to Illinois, and commit a crime with that gun.
Why is that? Because Illinois’s strict gun laws would prevent them from buying one there. So they go to Indiana or Wisconsin, two states with significantly relaxed gun laws, and LEGALLY buy a gun there. Indiana is one of the worst states in the nation at exporting crime guns. In fact, Indiana is one of two states that does not have a law or penalty for convicted felons possessing a handgun. Meaning a convicted felon in Illinois can cross into Indiana and LEGALLY buy a gun.
Which leads us back to Chicago. In 2016, Chicago had 25.1 homicides per 100,000 people. A study found that 60 percent of the guns used in gang-related homicides and 31.6 percent of guns used in non-gang-related homicides were purchased in a different state. In the meantime, New York City experienced a mere 2.3 homicides per 100,000 people because New York and its surrounding states all have strict gun laws.
In short: ONE state’s strict or loose laws do not really affect the gun-violence rate. It’s the consistency of all the states in the area.
Once again, the goal we are ALL trying to achieve is less gun violence. Fewer deaths. Strict gun laws only affect potential dangerous people trying to obtain a weapon. And the evidence is clear that when a state has strict laws, fewer guns committed in crimes are purchased. The problem is a lack of consistency.
States with lax laws export crime guns at a significantly higher level.
- “Straw Purchasing: Nine states...have enacted parallel laws (to federal ones) enabling local prosecution and incarceration of straw purchasers. These states have an average export rate of 9.5 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison, the 41 states that do not enable local prosecution and incarceration of straw purchasers have an export rate of 15.6 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants, 64% greater than the rate of states that do.
- “Falsifying Purchaser Information: Twenty-seven states...have enacted parallel laws (to federal ones) enabling local prosecution and incarceration of buyers who provide false information during a firearm purchase. These states have an average export rate of 10.9 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison, the 23 states that do not enable local prosecution and incarceration of gun buyers who falsify purchaser information have an export rate of 19.9 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants, 83% greater than the rate of states that do.
- “Failing to Conduct Dealer Background Checks: Twenty-five states...have enacted parallel laws (to federal ones) enabling local prosecution and incarceration of gun dealers who violate background check laws. These states have an average export rate of 12.0 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison, the 25 states that do not enable local prosecution and incarceration of gun dealers who violate background check laws have an export rate of 18.3 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants, 53% greater than the rate of states that do.
- “To date, 16 states...have enacted state laws to close the Gun Show Loophole...These 16 states...have an average export rate of 7.5 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants. In comparison, the 34 states that do not require background checks for all handgun sales at gun shows have an average export rate of 19.8 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants, a rate more than two and a half times greater than the rate of states that do.
- “Thirteen states...require purchase permits for all handgun sales. These 13 states...which require purchase permits for handguns have an average export rate of 6.2 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants. Conversely, the 37 states that do not require purchase permits for all handgun sales export crime guns at a rate of 19.2 crime guns per 100,000 inhabitants, more than three times greater than the rate of states that do.”
Imagine if every state had the same laws. The same restrictions. Would it eliminate crime? Of course not. But it would significantly reduce it, and that’s the goal we are trying to achieve. Furthermore, consistent laws will only help police enforce them--which makes it even MORE difficult for dangerous people to obtain guns.
So...what laws should be universal? There are plenty worth discussing, but I am going to focus on the ones that seem to prove the most successful. The most effective. My next few posts will address each of the following:
- Stronger Background checks (including a stronger “banned” list)
- Mandatory training/permit/license
- Mandatory storage
- Age restrictions
- Eliminate right-to-carry and open carry
- Stronger punishments.
As stated in my previous post, the key to successful gun legislation is not doing just ONE thing. Any of these items could help, but the more that are put into place TOGETHER, the more effective they will be.