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Gun Density Versus Gun Type: Did the Availability of More Guns or More Lethal Guns Drive up the Dallas Homicide Rate, 1980-1992?

NCJ Number
Date Published
129 pages
Publication Series
This study used data from Dallas for 1980-92 to examine the relationship between trends in deadly gun violence, overall gun availability, and the availability of more lethal types of guns.
Results revealed that the lethality of the Dallas crime gun arsenal increased substantially from 1980 to 1992 as measured by changes in the types of guns confiscated by police. Semiautomatic handguns rose from approximately 25 percent of confiscated handguns in the early 1980’s to 65 percent in 1992. Similarly, handguns larger than .32 caliber accounted for approximately 45 percent of confiscated handguns in the early 1980’s and about 60 percent by the early 1990’s. In addition, bimonthly and quarterly time series analyses indicated that trends in the use of high-powered weapons, both semiautomatic and non-semiautomatic, exerted a positive influence on gun homicides in Dallas. However, the rising use of semiautomatic weapons did not clearly influence gun homicides. Overall gun availability as measured by the percentage of robberies committed with guns remained relatively stable during this time and did not significantly influence gun homicide trends. These results suggested that the availability of more lethal guns among criminal and high-risk groups exerted more influence on gun homicides in Dallas than did the general availability of firearms among these groups. Nevertheless, factors other than changes in weaponry appear to have driven the homicide trends. The analysis concluded that the increasing lethality of the crime gun arsenal has had negative consequences on public safety in Dallas. The analysis also concluded that the study has modest implications for policy, but can inform debates over regulation of different types of weaponry. Figures, tables, footnotes, and 96 references

Date Published: January 1, 1997