A new study finds no evidence that gun shows lead to substantial increases in either gun-related homicides or suicides. The University of Michigan and University of Maryland study also shows that tighter regulation of gun shows does not appear to reduce the number of firearms-related deaths.
The researchers analyzed data from Texas and California, chosen because they are the nation’s two most populated states, have large numbers of gun shows, and are at opposite ends of the spectrum regarding gun show regulation. California has some of the most aggressive gun show regulations, including background checks for all gun show purchasers and a 10-day waiting period to obtain the firearm. Texas has no similar regulations.
Data came from the dates and locations of more than 3,400 gun shows, and firearm-related deaths from 1994 to 2004. More than 105,000 homicides and suicides were reported in the two states during the 11-year period.
Generally speaking, “studies” either confirm what we already know by ordinary common sense, or they are wrong. This one confirms what we already knew. Criminals don’t get guns at gun shows, even in states like Texas where no background checks are required for gun purchases.
This is so for three simple reasons:
First, even in states where background checks are not required that only applies to casual sales by non-dealers. Most and sometimes all sales at gun shows are made by licensed firearms dealers and they perform background checks on every sale they make whether at a gun show or in their gun store. Therefore, most sales at gun shows are already subject to background checks under Federal law.
Second, gun shows generally aren’t walk in events. You have to buy a ticket which is usually about $10. That’s one of the ways the sponsor of the gun shows pays its expenses. Criminals don’t want to buy tickets not only because they don’t want to spend that money and they don’t want to stand in line to do it, but they also don’t want to fill out and forms with their name or show ID which is sometimes required, or be caught on video cameras if they are on the lamb. Basically. criminals and gun shows just aren’t a good fit.
Third, perhaps the main reason criminals don’t get their guns at gun shows, is that you have to pay full retail at a gun show. This is related to the first reason above, because a criminal with a record can only buy a gun at any gun show from someone who is not a dealer and does not regularly sell guns. Most booths at gun shows are gun dealers who do background checks on every sale. So a criminal may have stood in line and paid to get in, and still have a hard time tying to buy a gun. Finally, Criminals won’t pay full retail when guns are available to them at far lower Black Market prices. A Black Market seller has no out-of-pocket cost if he stole the gun, and only a small out-of-pocket cost if he fenced it from the thief.
If Black Market prices are lower why don’t we all get guns that way? Well, it’s illegal and we’re law-abiding citizens so by definition we aren’t going to do that. It’s also much more risky for a good citizen to be tempted. Guns have serial numbers. Most stolen guns are reported to the police and the serial number of the gun is in the system as a stolen gun. Anyone caught in possession of that gun will automatically be in a heap of trouble. An ordinary citizen with a job, a home, a car, a family, and a dog would be placing his life style at great risk. Criminals can afford to do that because they don’t have an Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle and they’ve already placed whatever they have at risk by their choice of work anyway.
All this is interesting but we already knew all this by ordinary common sense. So while this is an interesting study, it merely confirms what any astute observer of gun shows and legal gun sales and life in general already knows.