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More than 20 years ago, Samuel T. Francis coined the phrase anarcho-tyranny to describe the trend of laws increasingly burdening law-abiding citizens while allowing genuine criminals to get away with malfeasance. He offered gun control as a prime example of this and, as a new study about the difficulty in tracing seized weapons in Boston has shown, he was all too prescient on that specific issue.
In the United States, all sales of new firearms must be registered and logged with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (oddly, still known as the ATF). The federal government does not, however, require that subsequent private sales be recorded, though some states do keep such records. Scratch that: some states attempt to keep such records, but fail to do so because such databases rely overwhelmingly on malefactors’ willingness to report their own misbehavior. This was detailed in a new report titled “The Sources of Boston Crime Guns” that looked at the Boston Police Department’s statistics on 3,200 firearms it recovered or confiscated between 2007 and 2013. The results were, shall we say, underwhelming.