This study assists law enforcement agencies in analyzing illegal firearms markets by using incident-level data on crime-gun traces and in developing problemsolving interventions to counter illegal firearms selling, possession, and use.
A review of research on illegal gun markets led to the conclusion that well-focused supply-side enforcement can be effective in countering point sources of illegal firearms transfers, such as federally licensed dealers making firearms sales to juveniles or other prohibited persons, as well as in diffusing sources of illegal firearms transfers of new guns originating from retail outlets. The analysis of crime-gun information pertains to one aspect of the illegal gun market that holds promise for supply-side enforcement, i.e., close-to-retail diversions of guns that are illegal under Federal law. Such an approach uses information on crime guns recovered by various law enforcement agencies that can be traced by Federal agents to retail dealers and purchasers. This study first describes the character and nature of crime-related gun markets at the national level and within seven selected cities. Next, it uses these data to identify patterns among actors associated with the illegal firearms market. Then, based on analyses of the dynamics of illegal firearms markets and patterns among actors associated with the illegal market, 11 indicators of gun trafficking are identified. These indicators can be used to assist in assessing the investigative potential of particular gun traces. This will enable law enforcement investigators to focus resources on the actors in the illegal firearms market who are involved in the diversion of guns to prohibited persons from federally licensed retail sources and/or private citizens. Extensive tables and figures and 65 references
Date Published: September 1, 2003