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The source of New York’s gun problem

November 9, 2016

A recent analysis by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman indicates that 86% of handguns recovered from crime scenes in this state come from another state. That statistic makes it clear that this country needs a federal law that covers all states and would require background checks on all persons buying a gun.

This should be a simple task. Numerous polls over the years have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans support this idea.

We know from experience that there will be people reading this who don’t believe it to be true, but the available evidence suggests that it is.

Some examples:

• A June 2016 CNN poll (tinyurl.com/jx82ewo) in which 92% of respondents said they wanted expanded background checks, and 87% supported a ban for felons or people with mental health problems.

• A Quinnipiac University poll from December 2015 (tinyurl.com/hlpr5k8) asked, “Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online? Support: 89%. Oppose: 9%.”

• A CBS/New York Times poll, conducted October 2015 (tinyurl.com/zop5qn2) asked, “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?” Favor: 92%. Oppose: 7%.

• A Gallup poll, conducted October 2015 (tinyurl.com/zdn3dmv) asked, “Would you favor or oppose a law which would require universal background checks for all gun purchases in the U.S. using a centralized database across all 50 states?” Favor: 86%. Oppose: 12%.

• A Pew Research Center Report from May 2013 (tinyurl.com/osxzfkn) says, “Gun control supporters can point to broad and consistent public support for expanded background checks. Fully 81% favor making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks. The proposal draws nearly equal levels of support from Democrats (83%), Republicans (81%) and independents (80%).”

Overwhelming support for expanded background checks clearly exists.

New York has among the strictest gun laws in the nation, but we still have a gun problem in large part because people buy them in states with lax laws and the guns make their way to New York and are sold to criminals.

How often does this happen? Because of Schneiderman’s analysis we know that between 2010 and 2015, it happened nearly 40,000 times, because that’s how many out-of-state guns were found by authorities at crime scenes. These guns were bought legally in Southern states, Pennsylvania and Ohio and brought to New York and sold to criminals who then used them in the commission of a crime.