Dr. John Lott had a piece at the Dallas Morning New on Monday (the morning news had run this op-ed about a year ago, but decided it was timely enough to run again):
Indeed, in all four presidential debates, Hillary Clinton and running mate Tim Kaine have pushed for background checks on private transfers of guns. Clinton says this will “keep guns out of the hands of those who will do harm.” But theory and practice don’t always match. Too often, gun bans or background checks don’t stop criminals and instead disarm law-abiding citizens, particularly poor minorities. This only makes life easier for criminals.
There are already 300 million guns in circulation, and more than 12 million enter the market each year. With 3-D metal printers, more people will be able to make weapons that are indistinguishable from those purchased in stores. It would be almost impossible to remove those weapons from circulation. Getting rid of these weapons would require a door-to-door campaign by law enforcement officials, and even that would be of only limited effectiveness.
It’s also not clear that it would help. When countries like England and Wales, Ireland and Jamaica banned guns and handguns, they saw a subsequent increase in murder rates. Even these island nations, which have relatively easily monitored and defendable borders, have faced fivefold or sixfold increases in murder rates after guns were banned. Some of the biggest spikes in murder rates corresponded with increases in drug gang violence.
Some think that background checks are the answer. Indeed, after each mass public shooting, President Obama calls for background checks on the selling of guns through private transfers. But these new rules wouldn’t have stopped the attackers. Since at least 2000, all of America’s mass shooters obtained guns without going through private transfers. Some of the attacks occurred in states that already have these background check laws.
As I show in my book, “The War on Guns,” there is no evidence that expanded background checks reduce rates of violent crime including mass public shootings, suicide, murder of police officers or domestic violence against women. (Gun-control groups contest this claim, but they compare states with and without background checks, not states before and after background checks are imposed.)
Meanwhile, other law-abiding citizens are left in a lurch. We see that with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Its proponents boast that the system has stopped 2.4 million “prohibited purchases.” But in 96 percent of these cases, the ban was dropped after the first two stages of review.
People who have been mistakenly stopped from buying guns are forced into a costly appeals process that frequently requires them to hire lawyers. These “initial denials” affect certain racial groups more than others. Hispanics are more likely to share names with other Hispanics, and the same is true of blacks. Because 30 percent of black males are forbidden to buy guns because of their criminal records, law-abiding black males are especially likely to have their names confused with those of prohibited people. . . .