Gun Control: Taken for a Ride in New York

January 26th, 2006 5:35 PM

"The National Tracing Center database is an essential resource for law enforcement. Beyond enabling law enforcement to trace the history of a gun linked to a crime, it helps identify patterns of gun theft and trafficking. And that information can help local law enforcement — like the NYPD — in stopping illegal guns before they're used to commit crimes.

Yet the NYPD — along with every other branch of law enforcement in the nation — is being denied the information needed to get illegal guns off our streets: There is no requirement that stolen guns or guns used to commit crimes be reported to the National Tracing Center database.

As a result, officers can only trace guns after they're used to commit a crime, and are shut off from information about other guns, sold by the same dealer and used in other crimes in other states."  

New York Senators Schumer and Clinton recently co-authored this editorial in the New York Post after two NYC policeman were murdered. They claim law enforcement needs more information that would help them eliminate “illegal” guns, which sounds reasonable at first blush. But it is the Senators’ assertion that police need information about “other guns, sold by the same dealer” that raises the warning flag. To understand what really motivates them, read on.

Is There an Epidemic of Cop Killings?

Is there evidence of a newly-evolving crisis impacting law enforcement? Each year, the FBI publishes a report entitled Law Enforcement Officers [LEOs] Killed & Assaulted. In the 2005 edition, they state:

"Predict where and how a tragedy is likely to happen and then use that knowledge to prevent it—that’s a good strategy. It’s also a reason to study the narratives in Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA)." 


Nowhere in this document is there mention of the National Trace database at all: the LEOs at risk negate the Senators’ premise of the database’s essentiality. More importantly, FBI data shows that the LEO homicide rate has dropped by one-third in the last 10 years.

LEO Homicides – Ten-Year Trend

Year           Murdered        Total LEO        Rates/100k

1995             74                    581,882            12.72

2004             57                    675,734            8.44

Change                                                       -33.7%


By cross-referencing against the national homicide rates for the same time period, we find the LEO homicide rate remained 1.5 times that of the general population, and that the decline in the LEO rate matched that of the general population.  

Homicides - General Population vs. LEO

Year            Homicides         Population            Rates/100k          LEO:Civilian

1995           21,606               262,803,276          8.22                     1.55

2004           16,137               293,655,404          5.50                     1.54

Change                                                                -33.2%               


During this time period, between four and 5 million firearms were publicly sold each year. Clinton and Schumer allege that Congress’s lack of support for police makes their jobs more dangerous. This is not true. Homicide rates reflect society’s overall level of criminal violence, not availability of guns.

Ominous Portents?

Upon deeper examination of the FBI data, we find some disquieting trends. First, non-CCW states have over 40% higher ratios of LEO to population.

Officers per 100,000 Pop. - 2004

CCW States               214.45

Non-CCW States       301.65

Difference                   40.7%


Furthermore, we find that the greater the LEO population and the less states trust law-abiding citizens to carry personal protection, the greater the homicide rate. Remember that United States higher court rulings consistently conclude police are under no legal obligation to protect specific citizens. This was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in 2005. You are on your own: a higher LEO density does not afford you more protection. However, you still must pay for the larger police force.


Homicide Rate by LEO Rate and CCW Status

States Divided Into Quintiles*

Officers per 100,000 Pop.    Nbr CCW    Homicide Rate

168.14                                  10                3.0

197.74                                  9                  5.3

220.46                                  8                  5.6

244.14                                  7                  5.8

315.43                                  4                  6.1

* Washington, D.C. added to last group

Blatant Anti-Gun Misinformation

In another article, Senator Schumer claims the NRA has undue influence on the gun control debate because it is “among the biggest givers in Congress.” 

Both New York senators voted against tort reform that would stop lawsuits seeking to hold firearms manufacturers responsible for their legally-sold, properly-functioning products. Senator Schumer received campaign contributions of $2,363,373 from lawyers during the 2004 election cycle, more than double the $1,151,130 the NRA contributed to all federal candidates and parties. Likewise, Senator Clinton received $2,891,672 from lawyers during the same period. By Senator Schumer’s criteria, lawyers have an exponentially greater undue influence on the New York senators’ abilities to pass laws that benefit the people.

The real crisis here is law firms buying influence to maintain a legal environment where frivolous lawsuits flourish, which in turn transfers more money and power to a small group of trial lawyers. The rest of us end up paying in increased costs of goods and services. The Senators’ true goal is to know where every “gun was first sold.” To do this, they must keep a permanent record the original purchase:

"For instance, if police report a stolen gun used in a crime in New York to the ATF, local law enforcement could learn where that gun was first sold…"



Senators Schumer and Clinton wish to manufacture a crisis, using the death of two police officers to promote their own agenda of creating a registration database: the next step necessary to institute a national policy of civilian disarmament.