Donald Trump and others who oppose measures to curb gun trafficking like to use Chicago to prove their point. So much gun control, goes the argument, and still so many guns and deaths by gun in the city.
This is false logic. Their argument ignores the well-documented ease with which illegal guns travel to Chicago, as in many urban areas, because of lax gun laws nearby.
NYC has many fewer gun deaths but still suffers from gun violence. Many guns used in crimes here come from out of state, as in the 2015 death of NYPD Officer Randolph Holder, shot in the head while pursuing a suspect, as well as other cases lower in profile but no less tragic. This week, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a report on how guns get to New York despite strict gun laws here, citing a lack of regulations elsewhere.
More than 50,000 guns connected to crimes were recovered by New York law enforcement between 2010 and 2015. Of the 46,514 whose source could be traced, the report finds that 74 percent originated out of state. In NYC, where gun laws are tighter, that proportion was 87 percent.
The report compiles data on those guns’ histories. Such data has been sorely limited by the NRA and gun rights lobby — as with much research into guns. What is the NRA afraid of finding out? Limits on research and gun data block solutions to our national crisis of gun violence, particularly the vast majority involving handguns.
Schneiderman’s report says certain restrictions could make a difference. The report estimates some 20 percent of guns with known time lines were brought to New York with the intention that they be sold illegally. The State Legislature could pass a “kingpin bill” to increase penalties on traffickers. But solutions must be national to block the flow of guns from states such as Virginia and Georgia along the I-95 “Iron Pipeline” corridor. That means a federal gun-trafficking law, universal background checks and no gun-show loopholes.
Cities including New York and Chicago, and even some states, have taken steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Gun-control opponents are wrong that such measures don’t have an effect. But NYC can’t do it alone.