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Arrestees and Guns: Monitoring the Illegal Firearms Market, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1996
200 pages
The relationship between offenders and gun markets was examined by means of interviews of more than 7,000 arrestees in 11 large cities.
The interviews used firearms questionnaires and were conducted during the first 6 months of 1995 with three population subgroups: adult males, adult females, and juvenile males. The research focused on four topics: (1) access to guns, or how they are obtained; (2) availability of guns, or how easy they are to obtain; (3) use of guns, particularly the motive for use; and (4) the values associated with gun ownership and use. The analysis focused on the role of gangs, drug markets, and drug use, as well as cultural and demographic variables whose association with firearms violence has been a topic of speculation. Results revealed easy and timely access to firearms, usually through illegal means. About one-fourth of the arrestees had used a gun to commit a crime; 31 percent of those stated that they had fired the weapon. Positive urinalysis for illicit drugs was not correlated with firearm ownership or firearm behavior. However, the selling of illicit drugs and claiming gang membership were strongly associated with firearm ownership and behavior. The participants also reported high levels of firearm victimization and attitudes that not only tolerated and accepted firearms but also regarded them as necessary for protection and respect. Findings suggest that a reduction in firearm violence requires multifaceted approaches that address prevention, intervention, and enforcement issues. Tables, appended questionnaire, and 66 references

Date Published: January 1, 1996