Low-Caliber Gun Control

Waldman is unimpressed by the Senate’s gun control bill:

Toomey and Manchin’s proposal would close the “gun-show loophole,” meaning if you buy a gun at a show you’ll have to submit to a background check. It also covers sales over the Internet. What it doesn’t cover is private sales between one person and another. You’ve probably heard the figure that 40 percent of gun sales happen outside licensed dealers, and while the evidence for this figure is thin, nobody really knows if it’s too high or too low. Furthermore, nobody knows what proportion of that 40 percent occurs at shows, and what proportion happens when a guy sells a gun to his neighbor’s cousin or to some dude he met at a party or to one of the attendees at his garage sale.

Jacob Sullum asks how background checks relate to Sandy Hook:

Since Manchin describes that requirement as a response to the Sandy Hook massacre, you might reasonably surmise that Lanza bought the rifle he used in the attack from a private seller at a gun show or after seeing it advertised online. But you would be wrong, since the rifle belonged to Lanza’s mother, who purchased it legally from a federally licensed gun dealer after passing a background check. And if Lanza had tried to buy a gun on his own, it looks like he also would have passed a background check, since it seems he did not have a disqualifying criminal or psychiatric record, which is typically the case for mass shooters.

Judis would prefer that Congress focus on the economy:

It would be ridiculous to say that reducing inequality in the United States, and providing much greater opportunity in cities would eliminate homicide as a problem. But it would be equally ridiculous to say that an improvement in the country’s economic fortunes, and the reduction in the wild disparities in income, would have no effect on diminishing the homicide rate. Why, for instance, did the homicide rate in the United States start to decline in the mid-1990s? Some of it had to do with declining access to crack cocaine; but it also had to do with the economic expansion that took place. Gun control is part of the solution to homicide; but so, too, is economic improvement.