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The Last Link: from Gun Acquisition to Criminal Use

NCJ Number
253055
Date Published
Author(s)
Philip J. Cook, Harold A. Pollack, Kailey White
Agencies
NIJ-Sponsored
Annotation
This study used data from the new Chicago Inmate Survey (CIS) to estimate the duration of the time from an offender’s transaction to obtain a gun to the use of the gun in committing a crime.
Abstract
Guns that are used in crime and recovered by the police typically have changed hands often since the first retail sale and are quite old. Although there is an extensive literature on “time to crime” for guns, defined as the elapsed time from first retail sale to known use in a crime, there is little information available on the duration of the “last link”—the elapsed time from the transaction that actually provided the offender with the gun in question. Based on the data from the Chicago Inmate Survey (CIS), the median time between acquiring a gun and using it in a crime was 2 months. Forty-two percent of the CIS respondents who used a gun in the crime for which they were incarcerated did not have any gun 6 months prior to their arrest for their current crime. The CIS respondents were almost all barred from purchasing a gun from a gun store because of their prior criminal record; as a result, their guns were obtained by illegal transactions with friends, relatives, and the underground market. The study concludes that more effective enforcement of the laws governing gun transactions may have a quick and pervasive effect on gun use in crime. 24 references (Publisher abstract modified)
Date Created: June 18, 2019