By Dr. Ray Kessler, who is, incidentally, a retired Prof. of Criminal Justice, former defense attorney and prosecutor is your host. I am also a part-time instructor in Criminal Justice at Richland College, an outstanding, 2-year institution in Dallas, TX.
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Monday, September 07, 2015
Criminals do not use same markets as legit gun owners
Although this study has a very small sample size, it suggests that most 'dangerous' suspects do not purchased guns though gun stores, gun shows, etc. The author, Cook is well-known as a advocate of more gun controls. It suggests we don't need more laws which affect law-abiding gun owners, we need to go after the underground market.
Gun violence exacts a lethal toll on public health. This paper focuses on reducing access to firearms by dangerous offenders, contributing original empirical data on the gun transactions that arm offenders in Chicago. Conducted in the fall of 2013, analysis of an open-ended survey of 99 inmates of Cook County Jail focuses on a subset of violence-prone individuals with the goal of improving law enforcement actions.
Among our principal findings:
*Our respondents (adult offenders living in Chicago or nearby) obtain most of their guns from their social network of personal connections. Rarely is the proximate source either direct purchase from a gun store, or theft.
*Only about 60% of guns in the possession of respondents were obtained by purchase or trade. Other common arrangements include sharing guns and holding guns for others.
*About one in seven respondents report selling guns, but in only a few cases as a regular source of income.
*Gangs continue to play some role in Chicago in organizing gun buys and in distributing guns to members as needed.
*The Chicago Police Department has a considerable effect on the workings of the underground gun market through deterrence. Transactions with strangers and less-trusted associates are limited by concerns over arrest risk (if the buyer should happen to be an undercover officer or a snitch), and about being caught with a “dirty” gun (one that has been fired in a crime)."
The authors also reviewed the research literature, which shows similar findings.
National firearms surveys of offenders
As documented below, survey evidence provides strong evidence that the gun market is sharply differentiated by the characteristics of the individual who is seeking a gun. Adults who are entitled to possess a gun are more likely than not to buy from an FFL. On the other hand, those who are disqualified by age or criminal history are most likely to obtain their guns in off-the-books transactions, often from social connections such as family and acquaintances, or from “street” sources such as illicit brokers or drug dealers. While some of these illicit transactions are purchases, they also take a variety of other forms.
Documentation for sources of guns to the US public at large comes from a detailed national survey conducted in 1994 (Cook and Ludwig, 1996) known as the National Survey of Private Ownership of Firearms (NSPOF).7 Based on the NSPOF, it appears that about 60% of recently acquired guns had been purchased from an FFL (Cook and Ludwig, 1996 and Cook and Ludwig, 2013).
There have been three large-scale periodic surveys of offenders conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice at various times since 1972. The Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities (SISCF) was fielded most recently in 2004, as was the Survey of Inmates in Federal Correctional Facilities (SIFCF); the Survey of Inmates in Local Jails (SILJ) was fielded most recently in 2002. Detailed statistics computed from the most recent version of each survey are presented in an appendix. These computations are limited to respondents sentenced in the previous two years, and are limited to male inmates between the ages of 18 and 40.
The results can be briefly summarized. The state prisoner survey is largest and is the focus here, although it is reassuring that the results from the other two surveys are similar. First, it is rare for offenders to obtain their guns directly from the formal market: Only 10% of recently incarcerated state prison inmates who carried a gun indicate that they purchased that gun from a licensed dealer (gun store or pawnbroker). Rather, most of the transactions (70%) are with social connections (friends and family) or with “street” sources. The latter may include fences, drug dealers, brokers who sell guns, and gangs. It should be noted that “street” sources are not necessarily strangers — the survey questionnaire does not ask.
Cash purchases and trades constitute about half of all transactions. About one in six are temporary arrangements involving a gun owned by someone else, and take the form of borrowing, renting, or holding the gun. Perhaps surprisingly, one in ten guns are gifts — but gifting of guns is also quite common in the population at large. Finally, the respondent admits to having stolen the gun in only a small fraction of cases, so it appears that theft is of scant importance as an immediate source of guns to gang members — despite the fact that there are something like 250,000 guns reported stolen each year in the U.S. (Langton, 2012). It should be noted that theft may play a greater role at an earlier stage of moving guns from the licit to the illicit sector."