James Taranto, wondering about the efficacy of current gun control proposals, asks if any of the measures under consideration at the moment would make it harder for would-be criminals to obtain firearms:
Would they? We doubt it, but one can only speculate. But PoliceOne.com has some speculation from a source some would regard as especially authoritative: police officers: “More than 15,000 verified law enforcement professionals took part in the survey, which aimed to bring together the thoughts and opinions of the only professional group devoted to limiting and defeating gun violence as part of their sworn responsibility.”
Among the findings:
• Asked if a federal ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds would reduce violent crime, only 2.7% said yes, to 95.7% no.
• Only 7.6% thought a ban on so-called assault weapons would reduce violent crime; 71% thought it wouldn’t help, and 20.5% thought it would aggravate the problem.
• On the more general question of what effect the White House’s suite of gun restrictions would have on the safety of police officers, only 11.6% said it would help; 60.6% thought it would have no effect, and 24.6% thought it would make cops less safe.
• Asked what the likely outcome would have been at Aurora and Newtown had a legally armed civilian been on the scene, 80% said it would have meant fewer casualties and 6.2% said it would have prevented casualties altogether. Only 5.5% said it would have led to greater loss of life.
• Asked which measure would help most in preventing large-scale public shootings, a plurality (28.8%) said more-permissive concealed-carry policies for civilians. The second and third choices were also not on the Obama agenda: more-aggressive institutionalization of the mentally ill (19.6%) and more armed guards (15.8%). Only then do we get improved background screening for gun purchasers, (14%), followed by longer prison terms for gun-related violent crimes (7.9%). Bringing up the rear were tighter limits on weapons sales (1.5%) and legislative restrictions on “assault weapons” and magazines (0.9%).
The cops in the survey did lean toward supporting two measures: 58.8% said they thought harsher punishment for gun trafficking (including the use of “straw purchasers”) would reduce gun crime, and 56.7% thought lawful gun purchasers should be required to complete a safety course before buying at least some weapons.
“I don’t believe people should be able to own guns,” Obama’s onetime University of Chicago colleague John Lott quotes him as having said during the 1990s. During his speech yesterday Obama paid lip service to the Second Amendment, but the Lott quote, whose authenticity we are inclined to trust, sounds believable. Given Obama’s social and political milieu, it would be astonishing if he really did believe in the right to keep and bear arms.
At any rate, while we don’t always trust the police, we’re inclined to give their views more weight on this subject than those of a leftist politician, even one who managed to make it to the White House.