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Crime Gun Risk Factors: Buyer, Seller, Firearm, and Transaction Characteristics Associated with Gun Trafficking and Criminal Gun Use

NCJ Number
Date Published
96 pages
This study used 10 years of handgun sales data for Maryland and subsequent recoveries of those guns by police, in order to identify the characteristics of firearms, sellers, buyers, and sales transactions for guns used in crime subsequent to retail purchase.
Adjusting for dates of sale, guns sold in Maryland during the 1990s had at least a 4.7-percent chance of being recovered by police in association with a crime somewhere in the Nation within 10 years. Handguns sold in the Baltimore area had a 3.2-percent chance of being recovered in Baltimore within 5 years; and those sold in the Maryland portion of the area of the District of Columbia (DC) had a 1.4-percent chance of being recovered in the District within 5 years. Buyers were at higher risk for having their guns recovered by police in a crime if they were African-American, young, female, living in or close to Baltimore or DC, or had previously purchased guns that were recovered by police. Most guns recovered in crimes had been sold by a relatively small proportion of dealers located in or close to urban areas. The handguns recovered in crimes were most likely to be semiautomatic, of medium to large caliber, easily concealable, and/or cheap. The simultaneous or rapid purchase of multiple guns by one individual was a risk factor for gun trafficking related to their criminal use. Based on these findings, this report advises that regulatory oversight and investigation of licensed gun dealers should focus on large-volume dealers in urban areas and, more generally, dealers with a relatively large percentage of their sales resulting in crime-gun recoveries. Findings provide some support for bans on cheap handguns and enactment of one-gun-a-month laws that regulate particular types of firearms and transactions. 47 tables, 6 figures, and 89 references

Date Published: January 1, 2007