NRA News Downplays Relationship Between Weak Gun Laws And Firearms Trafficking

During an appearance on NRA News, Jim Wallace, the executive director of Gun Owners' Action League, the state firearms association of Massachusetts, suggested that strict gun laws did nothing to curb gun violence in his home state of Massachusetts. Wallace, who is also a candidate in this year's National Rifle Association Board of Directors elections, went on to deny that crime guns are trafficked into Massachusetts from states with weaker laws.

To the contrary, trace data made available by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) indicates that the majority of crime guns traced in Massachusetts originate from states with lax gun laws.

During the segment, Wallace also referenced supposed attempts by the media to “hype up” the fatal shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and a July 20 massacre at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead and scores injured. From the September 14 edition of Cam & Company:

CAM EDWARDS, HOST: Because even in Massachusetts running explicitly on a “we need more gun control platform,” I mean if that's your campaign you're gonna be facing an uphill battle? Is that--?

JIM WALLACE, GUN OWNERS' ACTION LEAGUE: Oh, absolutely. There is no doubt about it. You know the one thing that has been helpful -- and I don't know if [Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs executive director] Scott [Bach] has seen it as much as I have, I know we have talked about it-- is that no matter how much the general media tries to hype up issues like what happened in Florida with Trayvon Martin and so forth and in Colorado, for the most part, unless they are rabidly ignorant, the general public really gets this now--


WALLACE: --that random acts of stupid violence like this are occurring because of the people that we're allowing on our city streets. They are not occurring because guns are supposedly easily accessible. They understand for the most part now that times have changed, they've lived through in Massachusetts almost a decade and a half of severe gun control--


WALLACE: --with incomprehensible laws. And gun crime has gone up. So what do we do from there? “Oh, we blame New Hampshire,” says the Mayor [of Boston Tom Menino]. Well, you know New Hampshire's crime rate is pretty low, mayor, so where are you going to go? I remember one time debating one of the mayor's people on the radio and he said, “Well, you know, we have the strict laws here, but it's the other states that are the problem.” And they said, “You know people can go across the border to New Hampshire and legally buy guns.” Well first of all that's incorrect. There are 13 legal steps you have to go through to get a gun from New Hampshire to Massachusetts.


WALLACE: But, being that said, you know, he said, “You can go to Georgia and buy them at gun shows.” And I said, “So, okay, what you're saying is the mayor has the most loyal criminals in the country. Because they will travel a thousand miles to get a gun, but they will always come home to commit the crime.”

EDWARDS: Exactly.

WALLACE: So, you know, they are very friendly to criminals in Boston. 

According to trace data  from 2011, 669 of the 1,020 firearms for which ATF was able to determine a source state came from outside of Massachusetts. The top four trafficking states -- New Hampshire, Maine, Georgia and Florida -- accounted for 328 weapons. All four of those states also received extremely low marks in the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's annual ranking of state gun laws, each receiving less than 10 points out of a possible score of 100. In fact, 11 of the top 15 crime gun source states for Massachusetts received a score of 16 or less on the Brady Campaign scorecard.   

Overall the Brady Campaign found that states with the weakest gun laws exported crime guns on a per capita basis at a rate nine times higher than states with the strongest laws. Massachusetts has some of the most rigorous laws in the country and is ranked third overall by the Brady Campaign. According to a Violence Policy Center analysis of data from 2009, the latest year available, Massachusetts also has the lowest rate of gun death in the United States.