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Just a Merchant of Death, on Average

Just before the shooting in Roseburg yesterday, I was at Kaiser getting my flu shot. A man walked out of the examination rooms wearing a black t-shirt that proclaimed, “If guns kill people, then so do pencils.”

I guess the point is that a pencil is used to design a gun. It would seem reasonable, then, that God is the cause of all of our trouble with gun violence, for originating this reality in the first place. We have no responsibility for anything, do we? Not even for keeping weapons out of the hands of the people most likely to misuse them.

There are those that face the threat of gun violence every day. They are generally the disadvantaged: families walking through mean streets, the criminal militias known as gangs that seek power through violence, and the police that try to keep them apart. What the last group tells us about the second is that stemming the flow of weapons to criminals is impossible because we do not ensure traceability from the factory to the crime scene. If that information was maintained, they could identify and punish the merchants that purchase for illegal resale to known felons.

There are solutions to this problem. One would be to require that every gun be fired before leaving the factory, and the bullet registered with a federal ballistics database. Another solution is microstamping. A microstamp is an engraving on the firing pin that puts an identifier on every bullet when it is fired. The inventor of the technology has surrendered his patent to public use.

In California, Attorney General Kamela Harris has moved to require microstamping on all guns sold in the state. This came to my attention when I interrupted a young man at work bitching about how purveyors of excellent products would be forced out of the state due to this unfair requirement. This was indeed the threat made by the leading producer of semi-automatic handguns.

So I did a little digging, and found this: the average time between sale of a semi-automatic handgun and recovery at a crime scene is less than four years. Assuming that legitimate gun owners hold their weapons for life, this means that the vast majority of these weapons are sold to criminals.

It seems pretty obvious that the reason the manufacturer wished to pull out of the state is because microstamping would cut off this trade, and therefore eviscerate their profits.

The police, on the other hand, favor microstamping.

Who are we protecting, with our claims of Second Amendment privilege? The criminal militias that terrorize the inner city? Those that produce and sell guns into those communities?

It is certainly not our families or public servants.

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