When I opened my third and last gun shop in 2011, a new Glock pistol ran about $500 bucks and a good assault rifle from Panther Arms cost about twice that much. Even at those prices, I sold plenty of both.

              Actually, I didn’t so much as sell them for the manufacturer’s suggested price. I sold them for about half the listed price because just about everyone who comes into a shop to buy a new gun brings in a used gun and makes a trade.

              Guns don’t wear out. And now that they’re made out of polymer, the frame doesn’t even rust. So, you buy a gun, shoot it a few times, then stick it away and take it out next year or the year after and trade it in for another new gun.

              That’s what the retail gun business is all about. It’s kind of like the car business except at some point cars end up being crushed into a square of rusted metal and shipped off to some big oven where they are melted down and the manufacturing process starts over again.

              I own a Colt 1911 pistol that was manufactured in the Hartford factory in 1923. The gun has gone through I don’t know how many owners, but it works fine. It even shoots some ammunition that was made at the Remington ammunition factory in Bridgeport sometime before World War II. 

              The Colt factory in Hartford is now an ‘innovation center’ which means the building’s just an empty shell. The Remington ammunition factory in Bridgeport is rubble. The gun is sitting in my son’s closet unless he sold it to someone else.

              Now according to my inflation calculator, a Glock which cost $500 in 2001 should cost $852 today. An assault rifle from Panther Arms with a retail price of $1,000 in 2001 should set a buyer back $1,705 and change.

              Meanwhile, I see dealers on the internet advertising Glocks for $400 and assault rifles for $600 and change. This means that in real dollars, the types of guns which show up in just about all the gun violence events which are happening today cost about half as much as they cost twenty years ago.

              If there’s a connection between the number of violent crimes committed with guns and the number of guns that are floating around, why should we be surprised when guns have become so much cheaper than they used to be?

              On the other hand, the truth is we really have no idea whether there’s any connection between all those guns floating around and how many crimes are committed by people who don’t have the legal authority to go out and buy one of those cheap guns. Instead, what we get from both sides in the gun debate is a totally unverified assumption that if more people own guns, then crime will either go up or go down, depending on whether all those guns are used either to commit crimes or to protect people from crimes.

              The latter argument, of course, is made by my friend John Lott, who has been saying that more guns equals less crime since he published a book with that title in 1998. The former argument connecting our elevated gun-violence rate to the size of the civilian gun arsenal is made by my friend David Hemenway, who has been making this argument in print since 2004.

              Lott goes around giving his lecture to friendly, pro-gun groups and Hemenway goes around spieling to groups who don’t like guns. Every few years Lott publishes a new edition of his book, Hemenway also updates his research from time to time. Neither Lott nor Hemenway, nor any of the other progenitors in these two cottage industries has yet to even attempt the one, basic piece of research which would definitively determine the link between violence and guns.

              What would that research be? It would be research that would determine exactly how many acts of violence committed with the use of guns are committed by individuals who have legal access to those guns.

              The only time the issue of whether a shooter used a legally acquired weapon is in cases of mass assaults, like last year’s mass shootings in Uvalde, TX or Buffalo, NY which together resulted in 31 deaths, with one shooter killed and the other taken into custody by the cops.

              But even though more than 100,000 Americans are killed or seriously injured by the random shootings which take place just about everywhere all the time, we have absolutely no idea where the guns come from which are used in most of those shooting events.

              I would be willing to take the short odds that less than 5% of all the men and women who are killed or injured each year by someone else who pops them with a gun are the victims of shootings committed by someone who is using a legally-acquired gun or someone who wouldn’t fail a background check even if the gun they used to commit an act of gun violence was acquired in an extra-legal way.

              So why do we continue to argue about laws to regulate the behavior of gun owners who know how to self-regulate themselves? Because the so-called experts who conduct research about gun violence don’t know anything about guns.