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NCJ Number: 155585 Find in a Library
Title: Gun Control and Economic Discrimination: The Melting-Point Case-In-Point
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:85  Issue:3  Dated:(Winter 1995)  Pages:764-806
Author(s): T M Funk
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 43
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article assesses the effectiveness and fairness of gun- control legislation that prohibits the sale of handguns that have specified parts which will melt or deform at temperatures less than those specified in the law.
Abstract: These laws are designed to eliminate the sale of cheap handguns often called "Saturday night specials." The net effect of these laws on the handgun market is difficult to determine precisely, but in South Carolina, the melting-point laws, along with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms regulations, have resulted in bans on approximately 10 percent of the handguns available on the retail market. It is undisputed, however, that the handguns that fail to meet the melting-point requirements are made of cheaper materials and are the least expensive. Thus, the net effect of the melting-point laws has been to eliminate the most affordable segment of handguns from the market. The primary arguments made in support of melting-point laws are threefold: handguns that lack "quality materials" also often lack adequate safety and accuracy mechanisms and, thus, are not useful to sportsmen; handguns that do not meet the melting-point requirements are made of softer metal that make it more difficult for ballistics experts to identify these guns, and making it easier for criminals to file off the serial numbers; and the Saturday night specials which the melting-point laws target are the weapons of choice for criminals, and their removal from the marketplace will therefore reduce the criminals' access to firearms. On the other hand, opponents argue that melting-point laws are arbitrary in determining which handguns they ultimately remove from the market; may have a negative effect on the ability of the police to track down criminals through the use of ballistics tests; do not contribute to crime reduction; and discriminate against the poor, who cannot afford to purchase more expensive handguns. The author argues that melting-point laws lack merit, since they do not help reduce crime, they are arbitrary, they imply that most gun crimes are committed by the poor, and they prevent the poor from being able to buy guns for self-protection. 286 footnotes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Economic analysis; Gun Control; Gun control legislation
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