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Obama is Dead Wrong to Blame Indiana for Chicago Gun Crime

In his "town hall meeting" last night, President Obama blamed Indiana's "lax gun laws" for Chicago's sky-rocketing violence, saying "30 to 40 percent" of guns used in Chicago crimes come from Indiana.  Obama's attempt to blame Indiana for his home town's problem with violence is dead wrong for several reasons:

1.  To buy a gun from a licensed dealer in Indiana - or in any other state in the United States - a person must pass a federal background check conducted by the the FBI using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.  If a person is a "prohibited possessor" as defined by federal law, he will be unable to legally buy a gun in Indiana, Illinois or anywhere else.  And federal law prevents an Illinois resident from buying a handgun in Indiana - only Indiana residents can buy a handgun directly from an Indiana dealer.  As a result, blaming Indiana's so-called "lax gun laws" completely ignores the fact that federal law generally controls who can buy a gun and who cannot, and federal law enforcement agents conduct background checks on all gun purchases.  

2.  Obama's numbers are way off.  In a study just conducted last fall and reported in USA today, it was found that while approximately 60% of guns recovered at Chicago crime scenes did come from out-of-state (which you would expect, since Chicago completely banned handguns until 2010), only 19% of those guns were originally purchased in Indiana (not "30 to 40%").

3.  Chicago criminals don't get their guns from gun stores - in Indiana or anywhere else.  We know this because the University of Chicago Crime Lab went to the Cook County Jail in 2015 and asked 100 inmates, who were in jail for gun crimeswhere they got their guns.  A whopping 70% said they got their guns on the street -- from fellow gang members, "social connections" and family members.  Only TWO said they went to a licensed dealer to buy a gun (where laws - lax or otherwise - would dictate whether they could successfully buy a gun).  And that number is perfectly consistent with a previous study of Chicago gang members that found that only 3% obtained their guns from a licensed gun dealer.

4.   It is already a violation of federal law for any person to be "engaged in the business" of buying and and seling firearms without being licensed by the federal government as a Federal Firearms Licensee.  (And all FFLs are required to conduct a background check for every firearm purchase.)  It is also a violation of existing federal law to buy a handgun outside of a person's state of residence.  If residents of Chicago are traveling to Indiana to buy firearms and taking those firearms back to Chicago to sell - the Obama admininistration simply needs to find those people, arrest them and prosecute them under existing federal law.  Blaming Indiana for the federal government's inability or unwillingness to enforce its own existing laws is patently absurd.

So I'm sorry, Mr. President.  Once again, when it comes to guns, you've got your facts wrong.  Chicago has a crime problem because Chicago has too many criminals - not because Indiana provides those criminals with guns.

Guy A. Relford

Guy A. Relford is a Second Amendment attorney in Carmel, Indiana.  He is also the owner and chief instructor of Tactical Firearms Training, LLC in Indianapolis and the author of “Gun Safety & Cleaning for Dummies” (Wiley & Sons Publications, 2012).  He hosts “The Gun Guy with Guy Relford” on WIBC radio in Indianapolis.

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