Yes, Virginia, You’re a Haven for “Crime Guns”

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Aug. 2 2013 3:28 PM

Yes, Virginia, You’re a Haven for “Crime Guns”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Crime is Slate’s crime blog. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @slatecrime.

On Wednesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that 90 percent of the traceable guns used in crimes committed in New York City in 2011 came from out of state. Bloomberg, an avid gun control supporter who co-founded an organization called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, specifically called out the lax gun laws in Virginia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, which, Bloomberg claims, make it easier for criminals to acquire guns and bring them up north. The Wall Street Journal notes that Virginia, for example, doesn’t mandate background checks for private firearms transactions.


Bloomberg had a ready answer for those who might criticize him for meddling in other states’ affairs: “To those who say 'stay out of our state,' our answer is: We'd love to, just as soon as you stop letting guns seep into the black market and get in the hands of criminals who murder our citizens.” Burn!

I’ve been critical of Bloomberg for his stance on the New York Police Department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program (he’s for it), so it’s only fair that I commend him here. The stop-and-frisk program is, at its core, a gun removal program, with the goal being to stop “suspicious” people on the chance they might be packing heat. But stop-and-frisk is ineffective, invasive, and quite possibly unconstitutional; the NYPD needs a better strategy for getting illegal guns off the streets. The gun numbers Bloomberg cited are legitimate, and he and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have to try something to get them down. Why not give shaming Virginia a shot?

The governors of Virginia, North Carolina, and other states are, of course, under no obligation to listen to Bloomberg’s remarks—and, honestly, they probably won’t. But, at the very least, the remarks raise awareness—and if Bloomberg backs his comments up with huge campaign donations to anti-gun political candidates in the relevant states, as he has suggested he will, they might do more than that.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.