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Strategies for Disrupting Illegal Firearms Markets: A Case Study of Los Angeles

NCJ Number
Date Published
92 pages
This technical report from the Rand Corporation examines strategies for disrupting illegal firearms markets.
The research for this report was undertaken with the primary goal of determining whether a data-driven problem-solving approach could be used for understanding the nature of illegal gun markets in the city of Los Angeles, CA. The research focused on an approach aimed at disrupting the workings of local illegal gun markets that served criminals, gang members, and juveniles in the city. The research had three primary goals: creation of a software tool to increase the ATF's (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm) ability to analyze patterns in crime-gun data to identify gun-trafficking cases; development of an intervention to reduce the supply of illegal guns in two Los Angeles neighborhoods; and evaluate the utility of records of retail purchases of ammunition for identifying prohibited firearm possessors. Using the software developed as part of the project, the researchers were able to determine that the majority of guns used in crimes in Los Angeles were actually purchased from local dealers and not trafficked across State borders, as had originally been thought. The second goal, the development of an intervention strategy to reduce the number of straw purchases in Los Angeles, was also found to be very successful. Finally, the third goal, ammunition-sale analysis, was also found to quite useful in determining the number of people in Los Angeles who purchased and possessed ammunition illegally. The findings from this report indicate that a combination of useful firearm laws, good data sources, the expertise of local agencies, and careful analysis can lead to the development of new interventions aimed at successfully disrupting the supply of illegal firearms. Implications for future research are discussed. Tables, figures, appendixes, and references

Date Published: January 1, 2008