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Move (Your Bloomin' Eyes) To The Center, Mr. Mayor

Friday, January 8, 2010

Skilled marksmen know that parallax—caused by having your head in the wrong place when looking through your sights—can cause you to miss your target. As New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated yet again, having your head in the wrong place can also result in a miss where gun control is concerned. 

Bloomberg's group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has produced a 51-page "Blueprint for Federal Action" calling for seven federal departments and agencies—the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security, the FBI and BATFE, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the White House Office of Management and Budget—to implement 40 changes to federal gun law interpretation and enforcement. The manifesto doesn't state what its recommendations are intended to accomplish. However, knowing that Bloomberg believes "More Guns Means More Crime," we can safely assume that he intends to reduce gun sales. 

Enter the problem of parallax. 

Within the last few weeks, the FBI has reported two sets of data that are not in dispute, both of which challenge Bloomberg's presumptions. First, murders dropped more than 10 percent in 2009, extending to approximately 51 percent the steady decrease in the nation's per capita murder rate since 1991. Second, since the November 1998 inception of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS, supported by the NRA and opposed by the Brady Campaign), the system has approved over 109 million firearm-related queries. The 10 percent drop in murder between 2008 and 2009 coincided with a 14 percent increase in NICS checks, and annual NICS checks have increased by 62 percent since the expiration of the federal "assault weapon" ban. 

A normal person taking these facts into account would conclude that restrictions on gun sales are not what cause crime to decrease. After all, the nation's murder rate has fallen to a 45-year low, while gun control restrictions have been mostly on the wane, and the number of privately-owned guns in the U.S. has risen to an all-time high, growing by over 4 million every year. 

But Bloomberg isn't seeing it that way. The mayors' "blueprint," which can be viewed here, includes calls for expanding the variety of firearms banned under the Gun Control Act's "sporting purposes" test, requiring "REAL ID"-compliant identification for all gun purchases, requiring dealers to notify BATFE when transferring multiple handguns to their personal collections, maintaining certain NICS records for longer than the 24 hours currently allowed, conducting criminal enforcement operations against gun shows rather than against individual dealers suspected of violating the law, suppressing sales of firearms by private parties at gun shows, providing BATFE an additional $53 million to conduct FFL audits, requiring dealers to maintain records of trace requests, expanding BATFE firearm tracing operations, funding additional gun control research, and empowering the CPSC to regulate the manufacture of gun locks. 

Fortunately, Bloomberg's latest effort has been mostly ignored by legislators and the media. (Indeed, it was never publicly released, and only divulged in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.)  But it serves as a clear reminder that gun control supporters, who claim the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller gives a green light to all gun control other than a total ban, intend to make it as difficult as possible for lawful citizen to buy, sell and possess guns in general.  And by promoting these initiatives to regulatory agencies, they want to achieve their real goal—undermining the Second Amendment—without bothering to get any new laws passed by a Congress that might not go along with their scheme.


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.