Last week, 80 representatives from local, state and federal agencies in both Indiana and Illinois met in Gary to see if they could come up with a way to halt or at least slow down the flow of guns from this state to that one. What great idea did they come up with? Well, says Lake County, Ind., Sheriff John Buncich, they plan to “scrutinize” the sponsors of gun shows more closely.
Like most gun-control efforts, this is something that sounds commonsensical and makes safety advocates feel good about their intentions but has no real effect. Yes, about 20 percent of the guns recovered by Chicago police from 2008 to 2012 came from Indiana, and many if not most of those came from gun shows. But gun shows themselves aren’t the problem, so scrutinizing their sponsors would do little.
Federally recognized gun dealers are required to always meet the same requirements for such things as background checks, whether they are in their own brick-and-mortar stores or at a gun show. But private transactions – one individual selling to another one – are not regulated. Since gun shows are magnets for gun enthusiasts, a lot of such sales go on there.
And even if our state cracked down, Illinois law has the same shortcomings – if that’s what you want to call them – as Indiana’s law. The state doesn’t limit the number of guns sold at one time, require background checks on private sales or license or regulate gun dealers. More guns in Chicago come from its own suburbs – 25 percent – than from Indiana.
Conservatives argue correctly that some jurisdictions with the toughest gun laws – such as Chicago and New York – have some of the worst gun violence. But liberals are also right when they say that doesn’t disprove the effectiveness of gun control in one jurisdiction when it is so easy to get a gun in nearby jurisdictions.
So the push is on for a federal solution, creating a uniformity of gun control across the nation. But that runs into the constitutional right to bear arms. And there won’t be any security in return, unless we’re willing to ban all new guns, the way Australia did, and start confiscating the 300 million of them already out there. Good luck with that.
The fact will always remain that bad people do bad things with guns and will always be able to get them, so all gun control does is make it harder for good people to get the guns they need. Here’s a question for you: Why isn’t all that gun violence here in Indiana, where guns are so easy to get, instead of in Chicago, where they are not? Answer that, and we might get closer to a real solution.