So what/if/criminals don't obey laws/gun control

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When used as an argument against gun control, the basic idea it seems to be conveying that making it more difficult to purchase guns will only deprive the "good guys", since the "bad guys" will ignore the regulations and buy guns anyway – another form of the "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" meme.


It still blows my mind that anyone thinks this is an argument.

Let's break this down. By "criminal", you might mean:

  • (a) someone who hasn't yet committed a crime but is planning to,
  • (b) someone who has already committed a crime but hasn't yet been charged with it, or
  • (c) someone who has committed crimes in the past and has a record.

Gun laws apply to each of these cases, and serve overall to reduce gun crime (and gun accidents) and "bad guy" gun ownership:

a: planning a crime

  • Buying a gun requires a seller, and people who are in the business of selling generally want to stay on the good side of the law so they don't get shut down.
  • Those who are willing to sell illegally (and who haven't yet been caught) will be much harder to find, and more expensive.
  • If the sale is done legally, there will be a paper trail connecting the weapon back to the buyer's real name and address (on their driver's license), which may help police in finding the perpetrator (especially if the gun is found, or its model can be identified from other evidence).
  • Waiting periods would reduce the number of "heat of the moment" crimes, and give endangered spouses time to flee or seek protection.
  • Psychological checks would prevent many with histories of violence or mental illness but no actual convictions from getting a gun at all.

b: criminal at large

Someone who has committed a crime and is now on the run is going to avoid doing anything to draw attention to themselves. Attempting to buy a gun, especially illegally, might help the police to find them.

c: out of jail

A background check would make it much more difficult and expensive for someone with a criminal history to get a gun, since they'd have to buy it illegally, and they'd run the risk of being turned in instead.

All Cases

And finally, people who commit crimes can be arrested – which means they don't get to commit any more crimes for awhile (or ever), and which provides considerable deterrence to both buyer and seller against making a sale without following proper procedures.

Gun control works. This has been demonstrated over and over again. To claim otherwise is counterfactual.