New York City officials blame states with looser laws for the flow of illicit guns. Mayor Bloomberg has famously waged a campaign of “straw-man” purchases against gun shops in states such as South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia to which firearms found in New York City have been traced. The mayor’s proxies purchased guns in their own names, illegally intended for transfer to other people. Lawsuits followed against the stores where the purchases were permitted. That raises interesting questions about why mere citizens who make such purchases get sent to prison, while government agents acting far outside their jurisdiction get a free pass.
But if guns are currently coming from legal dealers in more permissive jurisdictions, there’s nothing to say that’s the only possible source, or that imposing tighter laws elsewhere will cut off the flow. After all, cocaine, marijuana, heroin, and other drugs find their way to New York City in generous quantities in the absence of any legal source within the United States—or outside it, for that matter.