How Will Gun Control Affect The Hood?
The heat is on to limit legal access to assault weapons, but what about illegal ones?
The 20 children that Adam Lanza gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School were killed with a registered .223 assault rifle that Lanza took from his mother's house.
The AR-15 assault rifle, Remington 12-gauge 870 shotgun and two .40-caliber Glock handguns James Holmes used to kill 12 people and injure 52 others in the Aurora, Colo., movie-theater massacre, were all obtained legally.
The seven people that Wade Michael Page killed during a shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin were shot dead with a legally registered 9-mm semi-automatic.
The lesser reported workplace shooting that took five lives in Minnesota? Yep, done with a legal handgun.
The semi-automatic used in a shooting that hospitalized Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords? Legal, too.
So yes, after all of these tragedies, you can understand why the public and media at large is pushing the U.S. government for stricter gun control laws to keep weapons out of the wrong hands. In a perfect world, strict gun laws would prevent mass shootings from happening with such frequency and which, conversely, tend to drive fearful gun lovers to the stores in droves to buy more guns.
[Also Read: Do We Need Guns In Our Schools?]
But what about all of the other guns used to commit murder and mayhem in this country?
Guns like the ones linked to the nearly 500 deaths in the city of Chicago this year? Or the guns that have contributed to cities like New Orleans and Detroit ranking high on national firearm death rates? Guns in cities like Memphis, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Baltimore, where people wake up hearing about someone getting shot and killed every day.
For the most part, these guns are illegal.
While there is no concrete data pinpointing the number of illegal guns on American streets, it is safe to say that there are thousands being used on American streets. A 2011 Gallup poll revealed that 47 percent of Americans said they have a gun in their home. But a figure like that in no way means that the remaining 53 percent of the country does not.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, a Camden, N.J., gun buy back effort turned up just over 1,000 guns. Camden's population hovers around 77,000 people and isn't even the 10th biggest city in the state. So imagine how many other illegal guns are floating around in cities twice its size.
According to a report by ABC News in 2007, illegal guns aren't hard to come by. People who participate in the trade usually visit states where gun laws are lax, buying up as many as they can, taking them to states where it's hard to get a legal one and selling them at marked-up prices. In some cases, the police are in on the trade too.
Studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that cities with the most gun deaths almost always have a equally high poverty or unemployment rates [PDF]; two ingredients that usually brew an environment where people feel a gun is needed, legal or illegal, to protect themselves.
Factoring in price also makes illegal guns more attractive in poorer neighborhoods, with legal guns running upward of $500 or more.
In an interview earlier this year with Loop 21, a black NRA member and founder of Legally Armed in Detroit, Rick Ector, insisted that gun control of any kind would probably do more harm than good in black and poor neighborhoods.
“When you look at the U.S. as a whole, gun control laws are the most strict and severe in cities where black people are concentrated,” he said. “Outside of those areas, gun laws are nowhere as strict.”
He continued, "Here’s what you have when you have areas with strict gun control: you have criminals in those communities, who are going to have firearms, legal or not,” says Ector. “So what happens is, people who can legally have guns, but don’t, are in a sense held hostage by the people with illegal guns. What we need to do is strike down these gun laws and allow law abiding people to defend [themselves]."
So would stricter gun control laws have an effect in the hood? As of now, it's unclear.