Steve Chapman

The irrelevance of the law was plain to see. In 2004, Tom Diaz, an official of the pro-gun control Violence Policy Center, said, "If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference" in curbing gun violence.

No surprise there. Anyone with criminal intent had plenty of deadly options at hand. The so-called assault weapons, contrary to what you might assume, were no more powerful or lethal than other, unbanned guns. Not only that, but criminals, the people most likely to commit violent crimes, were completely unaffected by the ban -- for the simple reason that they are not allowed to buy or own guns of any kind.

As Florida State University criminologist Gary Kleck notes, most criminals arm themselves by stealing guns or buying guns stolen by someone else. So new restrictions don't make much difference to them. The federal ban was a classic illustration of how gun control works. Law-abiding people who rarely misuse their guns were deprived of options. Ex-cons went on as before.

Why wouldn't a gun ban dry up the supply of firearms available to criminals? Three reasons: There are more than two million guns in private hands. They have a very long useful life. And it doesn't take many to supply the nation's bad guys with all the ordnance they need.

Gun control hasn't worked as a remedy for crime. So what makes anyone think the answer is more gun control?

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

©Creators Syndicate