Editor’s note (25.05.22): This article is republished in connection with school shooting in Uwald, Texas.killing at least 19 children and two teachers. It was the deadliest such attack since shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Cannes, in 2012 and occurred less than two weeks after the death shooting in Buffalo, New Yorkresulting in the deaths of 10 black people as a result of domestic terrorism.
When in 2014 Illinois passed a law that allows concealed carrying of firearms– becoming the last of the 50 states to do so – Sam Ranaccio opened Check Your 6, Inc. in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. The store sells pistols and rifles, as well as classes on concealed carry. “Both species go hand in hand,” Ranakia says.
Check Your 6 was one of hundreds of gun dealerships that opened in the United States between 2010 and 2017, according to a preprint study published last month on the SSRN social sciences website and yet untested. According to a study that looked at county-wide data across the country over a 17-year period, when the number of arms dealers within 100 miles of the area increased, the number of homicides in the area has also increased in subsequent years, even as the number of unarmed homicides declined overall (see chart). The study found that the main burden of this violence was borne by the communities of most blacks.
The sharp rise in gun violence that has been observed in some black communities since 2014 is widely attributed to “The Ferguson effect». This a term was coined then-St. Louis Police Chief, who argued that the rise in violent crime was driven by deteriorating morale of officers following nationwide protests against the police killing of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in the suburb of St. Louis Ferguson, Missouri. The authors of the study believe that this increase is due to the sharp rise in arms dealers specializing in the sale of pistols near communities with the majority of blacks, shortly before 2014.
By 2010, there had been a “significant decline in the number of arms dealers,” said study co-author David Johnson. an economist from the University of Central Missouri. “After three or four years, you start to see a decrease in the number of homicides, and then they reappear as soon as the arms dealers start entering the market again.” It is unclear what could have caused the decline in the number of dealerships before 2010, but the rebound in arms sales may have been driven by fears that then-President Barack Obama would impose a tight policy on gun control, according to a 2015 study published on Journal of Public Economics.
The availability of weapons is known to be difficult to measure, in part because there is no federal register of firearms. Previous studies have usually relied on records of gun suicides, subscriptions to weapons magazines and survey data to estimate how many firearms are available in the area. But the authors of the new study argue that these figures are inaccurate.
Instead, they used data on federal firearms licenses (which gun vendors must obtain from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) as a trusted measure of gun availability. The researchers compared this with FBI data, as well as statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau, to track homicides in every U.S. county. Their analysis found that when a gun shop opens, the number of homicides in the surrounding area of 100 square miles in subsequent years increases by 3.9 percent.
To make sure they didn’t miss out on other factors that could have caused an increase in gun shops and homicides, the researchers also looked at non-gun killings and found that the number of “unarmed homicides” decreased over the study period. “If the killings had not been influenced primarily by the weapons themselves, we would have expected that the killings without weapons would also be correlated with gun shops, and we show that this is not the case,” Johnson said. “The increase in homicides is mainly due to an increase in the availability of weapons.”
Daniel Webster, who runs the John Hopkins Center for the Prevention and Policy of Armed Violence and was not involved in the new study, says it raises the question of how to uniformly regulate gun stores. “There is a huge variability from one arms dealer to another in terms of the rate at which the weapons they sell end up being used in crime,” he says. “I don’t think it’s a function of chance. It’s a function of how people run their businesses. ” He suspects that tighter rules on gun shops along with greater oversight of dealerships will reduce gun crimes.
Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, according to an organization that promotes gun control called Giffords Law Center, and Chicago has no licensed arms dealers. Yet the city is still filled with firearms and is suffered through armed violence. Chicago is less than 100 miles from Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana (the latter bordering the city itself), and in all three arms restrictions are much less than in Illinois.
The SSRN study highlighted Chicago for this very reason, also noting that the city has a surrounding “halo” of Illinois counties where arms dealers are concentrated. As a result, Chicagoans do not have to travel far to legally buy firearms. “Arms dealers are bringing more weapons into society,” said study co-author Joshua Robinson, an economist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. And this increase in accessibility is not limited to law-abiding buyers.
“There were times when people came in [to the store] with bad intentions, ”says Ranakio, the owner of the gun shop. “You’ll always have someone trying to buy a firearm for someone illegally – what they call ‘buying straw.'” He adds that state-ordered inspections and his own experience of law enforcement help prevent this (he he). For 20 years he was a policeman in Skoki, wealthy, most are white a village bordering Chicago), and he recalled two cases in which he said he refused to sell a gun to potential buyers. As far as he knows, he says none of the Check Your 6 firearms have been handed over or sold in connection with any crime.
However, firearms were bought (or stolen) from other licensed dealerships in the suburbs and surrounding states are often filmed in Chicago. In one recent high-profile case – a gun allegedly acquired by an Indiana resident in the city of Hammond of this state bordering Chicago, was used in a deadly shooting at a Chicago police officer. In another, a man in Indianapolis allegedly purchased a gun that was used to kill a seven-year-old girl on the West Side of Chicago.
“That’s why you keep hearing about buying straw,” says Wallace “Gator” Bradley, a former security officer for Gangster Disciples, a large Chicago street gang. “Persons who have the right to buy weapons will go to gun shops or go to arms shows and buy weapons. They will return immediately. ” He adds that buyers do not need to cross the state border to do so. “You can go straight to one of the suburbs … and go buy a gun.”
Bradley, who was pardoned by Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson in 1990 and has been a peace supporter for decades, says he believes straw shoppers should be accused of killing by firing on weapons they distribute. Ranakia also says he thinks tougher prosecutions will be the solution. “It’s not the arms dealers who are causing the problem,” Ranakia said. “These are criminals who commit crimes with weapons they shouldn’t even have.” In the statement on e-mail Scientific American, Cook County Attorney Kim Fox, a progressive reformer who has overseen the Chicago prosecution since 2016, says her office is doing just that. This year, Fox’s office has investigated 5,076 weapons cases, with 73 percent convicted.
“We need to make sure we bring gun shops and gun manufacturers to justice,” said Kina Collins, an advocate for gun violence prevention who is running for Congressman Danny Davis in Illinois County 7th, which includes some of the most affected areas of Chicago. as well as parts of the suburbs where gun shops are located. “And we need to make sure we’re in touch with other leaders in the Midwest because we see the flow of illegal weapons constantly crossing our borders,” Collins added. “We need to make sure we’re funding anti-violence programs because we know they work.”
On Monday, Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker called gun violence a “public health crisis” and announced the formation a new nationwide office to prevent gun violence. Pritzker has pledged $ 250 million in state and federal funds to address the issue.
MadCity GoodKids, a Chicago-based youth organization that advocates non-core solutions to gun violence, argues that communities suffering from violence need less aggressive police and more public investment to deal with the long-term damage caused by what it calls racist policies. The group has for years promoted a package of proposals, collectively called the Book of Peace Decree, that would direct 2 percent of Chicago’s annual police budget of about $ 1.7 billion to fund services such as mental health and drug treatment.
Webster says such holistic approaches are critical to mitigating the effects of violence. “There are some communities where disinvestment is significant, and many systems – schools, transport, housing, police – are failing,” he said. “In terms of politics and structure, black people are more concentrated in these areas. And this is intentional. This is a function of public policy for generations. “
Bradley says any solution requires entire cities to confront gun violence together. “No one but God can stop all this,” he said. “And you know it the way I know it: America is the biggest arms dealer in the world.”