More than a year ago, the National Rifle Association (NRA) obtained what the association calls “an internal memo” of the Department of Justice (DOJ) exposing Obama’s plans for gun registration and confiscation. Being an internal memo, it was never released to the public.
The memo is actually a 9-page research report titled “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies” and dated Jan. 4, 2013, written by Greg Ridgeway, Ph.D., Deputy Director, National Institute of Justice.
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is a research, development and evaluation agency of the DOJ. NIJ is notable among federal governmental research organizations because it is headed by a political appointee of the President rather than by a scientist or a member of the civil service. NIJ is currently headed by John Laub. Its deputy director Greg Ridgeway had come to the NIJ from the RAND Corporation.
The NIJ report’s date of January 4, 2013, is significant because it was 19 days after the alleged shooting massacre of 20 kids and 6 adult women at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Although the NRA had obtained the report in February 2013, it hesitated to make public the report, uncertain as to the veracity of the information. On November 18, 2013, the NRA finally confirmed rumors of the report when its spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told Bearing Arms the DOJ memo is legitimate.
DIJ’s 9-page report, “Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies,” begins with a statistic on firearm homicides in America — an average of “about 11,000 firearm homicides every year,” which include intentional firearm homicides as well as firearm deaths from suicides and accidental discharges. The report, however, does not separate those categories, so we are not told how many firearm homicides were intentional and criminal, but we are told that fatalities from “mass shootings,” defined as “those with 4 or more victims in a particular place and time” (like Sandy Hook) account on average for 35 fatalities per year.
The report next states its purpose, which is to assess the effectiveness of various gun control measures to reduce firearm violence:
“This document provides a cursory summary of select initiatives to reduce firearm violence and an assessment of the evidence for the initiative.”
The rest of the 9-page report consists of a review of 10 types of gun control measures that have been implemented and an assessment of their effectiveness/ineffectiveness:
1. Gun buybacks are ineffective as generally implemented, “unless massive and coupled with a ban.”
2. Large capacity magazines restrictions have “great potential to reduce lethality; requires a massive reduction in supply.”
3. Ammunition logs increase “opportunities to detect illegal firearm possessors.”
4. Universal background checks’ “Effectiveness depends on the ability to reduce straw purchasing, requiring gun registration and an easy gun transfer process.” (Straw purchasers are gun buyers who have no record of a prohibiting offense.)
5. Straw purchasers are “the primary source of crime guns” and “the largest source for the illicit market.” Given that, the report recommends that straw purchases “should be the focus.” However, “There is little evidence on what works.” As an example, the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and NSSF (National Shooting Sport Foundation) sponsored the “Don’t Lie for the Other Guy” public awareness campaign starting in 2000 “but there are no evaluation reports of its effectiveness.”
6. Require all gun transfers to occur at an FFL (Federal Firearms License): “Some states, such as California, require all transfers of guns to be properly documented (since 1923). This usually requires the involvement of a federally licensed dealer in the transaction. Despite this, straw purchasing continues largely unabated.”
7. Gun shows “do provide firearms to the illicit market, but the problem is not uniquely about gun shows but rather secondary transfers of unregulated private sellers. Gun shows simply convene numerous private sellers along with FFLs. Gun shows in states requiring all transfers to be documented have fewer illegal gun sales.”
8. Gun registration and continuous checks for possession eligibility: “Universal checks are insufficient for ensuring that firearm owners remain eligible. Convictions, mental health issues, and restraining orders can develop after the background checks. Recovering guns from those that become ineligible is likely effective. […] The challenge to implementing this more broadly is that most states do not have a registry of firearm ownership.”
9. Assault weapon ban: While recognizing that “Assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime,” the DIJ report nevertheless emphasizes how the existing stock of assault weapons is large because of a 1994 law exempting weapons manufactured before 1994. The existence of an estimated 1.5 million assault weapons in the United States undercuts the effectiveness of assault weapon bans.
Interestingly, the DIJ reports points out that prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in only 2-8% of crimes. “Therefore a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.” Despite that, the report still recommends a ban on assault weapons, insisting such a ban “could be effective” if coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions.
10. Smart guns (technology installed that would preclude anyone but the owner of a gun from using it) are “Most appropriate for making guns child safe or preventing police officers from being assaulted with their own firearm” but are “Unlikely to affect gun crime.”
Websites that have reported on this “DOJ memo” represent the NIJ report as stating the Obama administration “believes that a gun ban will not work without mandatory gun confiscation” and “national gun registration.” (See, for example, Red Flag News and The Examiner.)
It must be pointed out that NOWHERE in the NIJ report does it say that. The report does not have a conclusion or a policy recommendation. For that matter, the word “confiscation” is not even in the 9-page report.
However, a policy of nation-wide gun confiscation and gun registration may be IMPLIED or DERIVED from the report’s assessment of the general ineffectiveness of the ten types of gun control measures that do exist today. But to draw such a conclusion is a big leap in cause-and-effect logic because, since every gun control measure that has been tried falls short in significantly curtailing gun violence, who’s to say that a nation-wide gun registration and/or confiscation would work?
Aside from that dubious IMPLIED policy recommendation, what I find to be noteworthy in the NIJ report is the author’s admission that since assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime, a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.
Which then raises the question of why politicians like Sen. Diane Feinstein are so hellbent on banning and eliminating assault weapons.
H/t FOTM’s Gingercake