Feb. 19, 2013 9:42am Mytheos Holt
Gun control may still be very much a topic for national conversation, and the prospects of some variety of gun control legislation may look better for anti-gun forces than they have in nearly 20 years, but a Justice Department internal memo from early in the year that just got leaked to the public may scuttle all of that. The memo comes from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), a subgroup within the Justice Department, which defines itself this way:
The National Institute of Justice — the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice — is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice, particularly at the state and local levels.
In other words, when a policy is proposed that the department has to enforce, they go to this group with questions. No partisan agenda can be reasonably inferred, and if there were one, it would likely incline toward the administration’s preferred policy.
Not that you’d know it from reading the memo itself, which takes aim at nearly every form of gun control proposed by the Obama administration and its allies in Congress, and systematically shoots it all down (no pun intended), or argues for proposals that are completely politically untenable. Making matters worse for the administration, the memo wasn’t drafted by some low level flunky in the NIJ, but rather from Greg Ridgeway, its Deputy Director. Moreover, Ridgeway is not a Bush administration holdover, but was, in fact, hired last year right in the thick of President Obama’s reelection campaign.
A few key excerpts from Ridgeway’s damning report follow.
On the prevalence of mass shootings (a key statistic used by gun control advocates such as Piers Morgan):
Fatalities from mass shootings (those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time) account on average for 35 fatalities per year. Policies that address the larger firearm homicide issue will have a far greater impact even if they do not address the particular issues of mass shootings.
On the idea of the government buying back guns:
Twitter summary: Buybacks are ineffective unless massive and coupled with a ban[…]
Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented. 1. The buybacks are too small to have an impact. 2. The guns turned in are at low risk of ever being used in a crime. 3. Replacement guns are easily acquired. Unless these three points are overcome, a gun buyback cannot be effective.
The 1997 Australia gun buyback and its associated regulations is an exception to this. 1. It was large, buying back 20% of the firearm stock. 2. It targeted semi-automatic weapons. 3. It coupled the buyback with a ban on certain weapons and a nationwide registration and licensing program. There is strong evidence that it reduced mass killings (before the initiative massacres occurred on average once per year and none have occurred in the 15 years since).
The Australia buyback appears to have had no effect on crime otherwise.