Gun violence is back in the spotlight with skyrocketing crime rates and a sharp increase in the number of Americans purchasing firearms. While most familiar with the topic know that few of these armed criminals acquired their weapons legally, the media often skips over that point. Even when it is mentioned, little attention is given to the process criminals follow to become armed.
With Joe Biden taking steps toward using executive power to further curb gun ownership and a major Second Amendment case now before the Supreme Court, the debate over gun violence and restrictions will only get hotter, but are Democrats really focused on keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals – or just everyone else?
The Department of Justice (DOJ) conducted a survey in 2019 of inmates convicted of gun crimes. It found that 43% of criminals purchased their firearms on the black market, 6% stole them, and 10% bought weapons at a retail establishment. The criminal had another person buy the firearm for them in 11% of cases – a process known as the straw purchase – and about 15% received their weapons from a friend or relative.
“Guns enter illegal commerce through one of three ways,” enumerated an official from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) during an interview with Fox News. The first method is private purchases of guns that are later sold to individuals who are not legally allowed to possess them. The second tactic involves straw purchases, in which people purchase firearms legally from dealers and then give them to a person who is prohibited from owning them. Lastly, criminals will steal them from gun dealers and private citizens. In these cases, it is difficult to ascertain who committed the gun crime because the criminal does not register the newly acquired weapon.
While those are the three primary ways criminals obtain guns, there are indications the dark web is continuing to rise in popularity among those looking to acquire a firearm illegally. A 2018 RAND report showed that the internet is “increasing the availability of better performing, more recent firearms for the same, or lower, price than what would be available on the street or the black market.”
Randy Pargman, senior director of threat hunting and counterintelligence at Binary Defense, told Fox News that he expects “illegal online gun sales on the dark web to continue in the coming years,” noting that “if changes to laws make it more difficult to purchase guns legally, gun sales on the dark web may expand in the U.S.”
Given the facts and data, doesn’t it seem odd that neither the Biden administration nor Democrats in Congress are aggressively pursuing ways to prevent violent criminals from obtaining firearms? The president is more intent on banning so-called “ghost guns” and “assault rifles” – which account for only a tiny percentage of gun crimes – than other means of safeguarding lives. This has always been the chink in the anti-gun lobby’s armor: Its proposed solutions do almost nothing to save lives while placing more law-abiding individuals in peril.