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Firearms and Violence in American Life

NCJ Number
769
Date Published
Author(s)
George D. Newton, Jr., Franklin E. Zimring
Annotation
SALE AND ACQUISITION OF FIREARMS AND PATTERNS OF OWNERSHIP ARE EXAMINED, AND THE RELATIONSHIP AND USE OF FIREARMS IN COMMITTING CRIME AND VIOLENCE IS DISCUSSED.
Abstract
GENERAL PATTERNS OF FIREARMS OWNERSHIP ARE CONSIDERED IN ORDER TO ANALYZE THE MISUSE OF FIREARMS IN AMERICA. OF THE ESTIMATED 90 MILLION FIREARMS IN CIVILIAN HANDS, 24 MILLION ARE HANDGUNS, 35 MILLION ARE RIFLES, AND 31 MILLION ARE SHOTGUNS. FIREARMS OWNERSHIP IS THE HIGHEST IN THE SOUTH AND LOWEST IN THE EAST. MOST GUNS ARE PURCHASED SECONDHAND, USUALLY FROM FRIENDS OR OTHER PRIVATE PARTIES. FROM 1962 TO 1968, THE SALE OF LONG GUNS DOUBLED AND THE SALE OF HANDGUNS QUADRUPLED. ACCIDENT AND SUICIDE RATES ARE EXAMINED IN RELATION TO FIREARMS, AS WELL AS CRIME AND COLLECTIVE VIOLENCE. THE AGE, ORIGIN, AND PRIOR HISTORY OF FIREARMS USED IN CRIME IS DISCUSSED. DATA FROM THREE SOURCES DOCUMENT THAT THE PROPORTION OF GUN USE IN VIOLENCE RISES AND FALLS WITH GUN OWNERSHIP; AND A STUDY OF GUNS USED IN HOMICIDES, ROBBERIES, AND ASSAULTS IN EIGHT MAJOR CITIES SHOWS THAT CITIES WITH A HIGH PROPORTION OF GUN USE IN ONE CRIME TEND TO HAVE HIGH PROPORTIONS OF GUN USE IN THE OTHER CRIMES. THE FOLLOWING SYSTEMS ARE DISCUSSED FOR FIREARMS CONTROL: DIFFERENT STRATEGIES OF FIREARMS CONTROL; LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL FIREARMS LAWS; FIREARMS CONTROL AND CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE FEDERAL CONSTITUTION; FIREARMS CONTROL POLICIES OF OTHER NATIONS; AND ESTIMATES OF THE COST FOR VARIOUS SYSTEMS OF FIREARMS CONTROL. ALTHOUGH COMPARISONS OF CRIME STATISTICS AND FIREARMS POSSESSION ARE NEVER SATISFACTORY, AN INFERENCE CAN BE DRAWN THAT CONTROL SYSTEMS THAT SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCE THE NUMBER OF GUNS ARE EFFECTIVE IN REDUCING THE LEVEL OF GUN VIOLENCE. TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS IN TRACING FIREARMS TO OWNERS, IN DETECTING FIREARMS IN PUBLIC PLACES, AND IN DEVELOPMENT OF NONLETHAL WEAPONS OR AMMUNITION WOULD HELP REDUCE FIREARMS MISUSE BY MAKING FIREARMS CONTROL SYSTEMS MORE EFFECTIVE. GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE INDUSTRY SHOULD ENGAGE IN A CONCENTRATED PROGRAM OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TO PROMOTE SUCH TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS. APPENDIXES INCLUDE: (1) FIREARMS PROPOSALS OF PRIOR COMMISSIONS; (2) TYPES OF FIREARMS IN THE UNITED STATES; (3) STATISTICAL COMPILATION OF DOMESTIC FIREARMS PRODUCTION AND IMPORTS; (4) STATISTICAL MATERIAL ON GUNS AND VIOLENCE; (5) FIREARMS AND VIOLENT CRIME -CONVERSATIONS WITH PROTAGONISTS; (6) FIREARMS POLICIES OF EXTREMIST GROUPS; (7) STATE FIREARMS LAWS; (8) THE ARMY CIVILIAN MARKSMANSHIP PROGRAM; (9) A DEBATE OUTLINE ENTITLED 'OUTLAWING THE PISTOL'; (10) THE SECOND AMENDMENT RELATING TO THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS; AND (11) A DISCUSSION OF FIREARMS CONTROL AND THE FIFTH AMENDMENT. (DAG)
Date Created: February 26, 2013