While Montana legislators are hell-bent on making every corner of Montana into what they imagine the Wild West looked like, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research have found that the state of Missouri demonstrates the dangers of repealing gun laws. From the New York Times:
in the first six years after the state repealed the requirement for comprehensive background checks and purchase permits, the gun homicide rate was 16 percent higher than it was the six years before. During the same period, the national rate declined by 11 percent. After Professor Webster controlled for poverty and other factors that could influence the homicide rate, and took into account homicide rates in other states, the result was slightly higher, rising by 18 percent in Missouri.
Though you would never guess it, given the NRA’s rigid adherence to an absolutist policy that compares background checks to totalitarianism, almost three-quarters of NRA members support background checks on the purchase of all guns.
No one who supports background checks believes that they can solve the crisis of gun violence in this country, but there’s simply no reason to allow people to purchase weapons without a simple, quick, and inexpensive background check that might prevent someone who shouldn’t have a gun from getting one.
The next time someone from the Montana Shooting Sports Association claims, either in a legislative hearing he’s hijacked or to the media, that easier access to guns will increase safety, I hope someone will ask him to explain the Missouri experience—and answer why, when background checks would both be effective and popular, Montana shouldn’t mandate them for all gun sales.