Untraceable guns, untraceable crime

According to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, gun dealers nationwide “lost” an average of at least 82 firearms every day last year. For all of fiscal year 2007, this adds up to a grand total of more than 30,000 firearms that cannot be accounted for in dealers’ inventories. The Brady Center analyzed this month’s data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which led to these disturbing figures.

Untraceable guns are the perfect fit for criminals seeking to become untraceable themselves. That’s why the law already requires dealers to keep records of the guns it sells, and to whom. And gun laws aside, tracking inventory should be basic shopkeepers’ math. It doesn’t seem like that should be too much to ask of any honest, moral gun dealer.

Unfortunately, an enforcement agency like the ATF doesn’t have the resources to inspect every single gun store across the country. Between untraceable guns and legislative loopholes (like the fact that our government has failed to require gun shows to implement a thorough background check on customers), gun control looks more and more like an exercise in futility.

As a person who grew up in a house with guns, and whose father took the license to have such a weapon very seriously, I would hope there are many law-abiding gun owners out there who would not see more stringent enforcement of inventory regulations as an assault on the Second Amendment. Besides, according to that very amendment, even the militia “necessary to the security of a free State” is “well regulated.”

Francis Smith, Special Publications Assistant Editor

The Nutraloaf taste test

nutraloaf.jpgIs the log of ground-up food served to problem inmates in prisons all over the country foul enough to constitute cruel and unusual punishment, as prisoners in lots of jurisdictions have charged? Slate has this piece in which the author made “Nutraloaf” recipes from three different states’ prison systems and invited friends for a taste test. The consensus among the writer and her friends appears to be that the loaves were terrible, but not unconstitutionally so.

Unfortunately, Maryland’s recipe — known as a “special management meal” — wasn’t one of the three the writer cooked, but if some brave blog reader wants to take the Free State’s loaf for a test drive and report the results back to The Daily Record, I won’t stop you.

Maryland was mentioned in the story. Slate links to what appears to be the Web site of a clerk for an administrative law judge who heard and dismissed an inmate’s grievance about Nutraloaf. The clerk has posted what looks like a draft opinion holding that it’s not arbitrary and capricious to serve an inmate this nasty stuff.

Hat tip: How Appealing.

CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer