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EXCLUSIVE: Lawmakers told gun serialization don’t produce “any crime-reducing benefits” but does allow for confiscations

By Michael Bielawski

Dr John Lott, an international expert on crime prevention told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that the serialization of firearms does not produce `any crime-reducing benefits'“ but it does allow for future gun confiscations.

He was there to comment on S. 209 which is “An act relating to prohibiting unserialized firearms and unserialized firearms frames and receivers, and to juvenile offenses in the Criminal Division.” Sen. Richard Sears Jr., D-Bennington, Sen. Phil Baruth, D/P-Chittenden, and Sen. Brian Campion, D-Bennington, are the lead sponsors among others.

He summarized numerous states that for these serialization programs they had wasted tens of thousands of police hours and tens of millions were spent before being shuttered for producing no documented results.

He said, “The bottom line is that these policies haven’t produced any crime-reducing benefits and I think the main reason why they are pushed is that when you have serialization it’s eventually possible to go and confiscate.”

Lott has a long list of credentials including he was previously senior advisor for research and statistics at the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice as well as chief economist for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, among other high profile research and teaching positions. He also has over 120 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and a book run through three editions titled “More Guns, Less Crime”.

Lott explained why having serial numbers on guns does not help detectives solve crimes. He said, “In theory if criminals leave registered guns at a crime scene law enforcement can use the serial numbers to trace the guns back to the perpetrators, but in real life guns are only left at the scene of the crime when the gunmen have been seriously injured or killed with both the criminal and the weapon present at the scene.”

He added that in the rare case that a gun is left behind and the criminal has fled the scene then they are usually either not registered or they are registered to someone else.

He noted several states that have already spent decades pouring time and money into these systems with no benefits to report.

“Police in Hawaii, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York, have had registration systems in place for decades but can’t point to any crimes that this has helped solve,” he said.

He cited during a 2001 lawsuit the State Police of Pennsylvania going back a century could not identify a single crime solved via their registration systems.

Lott noted that all the money and time put into these systems takes away from the other work that police need to be doing. For these reasons the systems are ultimately abandoned.

“Even these states which strongly favor gun control eventually abolish their systems because they could not point to one single crime that it had solved,” he said.

Baruth asked Lott if registering guns is going to lead to more background checks and Lott said he doesn’t think so.

“If the individual has a ghost gun to begin with and you won’t know whether he has a ghost gun or not, is he the type of person then that you are going to be able to use to trace the gun back to him if he uses it in a crime?” he said.

Lott had used Canada as one of his examples of governments failing to make any progress reducing crimes via their registration systems. Sen. Tanya Vyhovsky, P/D-Chittenden-Central, asked Lott about how Canada has stricter gun control laws than the U.S. and they have fewer gun crimes.

Lott noted the stricter gun laws are not the reason for their lower crime rates.

“They had even lower crime rates before they had their gun control laws,” he said.

The testimony begins about 43 minutes into the committee’s hearing.

The author is a writer for the Vermont Daily Chronicle


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