Report: States With Lax Gun Laws Drive Crime In Other States

September 27, 2010 2:42 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Shortly before clinching the Delaware Republican Senate nomination, Tea Party darling Christine O'Donnell received a last-minute boost in the form of an endorsement from the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Anti-Obama Protester

Despite the Tea Party's supposed emphasis on fiscal matters, guns have been an important issue for the movement since its inception.  At last year's rallies against health care reform, the sight of armed protestors became the norm.  And Sharron Angle (R-NV), perhaps the most famous product of the Tea Party movement, has imagined possible "Second Amendment remedies" to the nation's problems.   

But a group of almost 600 mayors across the country aren't being quite so cavalier about the dangers of lax gun laws.  Today, Mayors Against Illegal Guns issued a report finding that "nearly half of the guns that crossed state lines and were used in crimes in 2009 were sold in just 10 states." The study also showed that states with lax gun laws are far more likely to produce guns that are used in crimes in other states: 

[The study] uses previously unavailable federal gun data to identify what it says are the states that most often export guns used in crimes across state lines. It concludes that the 10 worst offenders per capita, led by Mississippi, West Virginia and Kentucky, supplied nearly half the 43,000 guns traced to crime scenes in other states last year.

The study also seeks to draw a link between gun trafficking and gun control laws by analyzing gun restrictions in all 50 states in areas like background checks for gun purchases, policies on concealed weapons permits and state inspections of gun dealers. It finds that, across the board, those states with less restrictive gun laws exported guns used in crimes at significantly higher rates than states with more stringent laws.

According to the New York Times, the group of mayors will use the results to push for tighter gun restrictions, including "closing the so-called gun show loophole." Last year, a survey conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that even 69 percent of NRA members support closing the loophole, but efforts to do so have consistently stalled in Congress, due in part to overwhelming opposition from conservative lawmakers.  Notably, O'Donnell's primary opponent, Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), endorsed the mayors' effort to close the loophole in April.