Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
- Of the proportion of successfully traced guns, “straw purchases,” guns that were purchased by an individual legally on behalf of another for illicit purposes were highest in New Orleans at 14.2% followed by Chicago at 12.1%, and finally PGC at 10.5%.
- Recovery time for crime guns was fastest in cases where the purchaser possessed the gun when compared to straw purchases or multi-gun purchases.
- Purchasing “guns on the street” is the most popular way to access guns for crime (50.7%) followed by asking a family member or friend (28.2%) and finally gun shops/ads/mail orders (19.7%).
In the article, “A Comparative Analysis of Crime Guns,” Wellford and his co-authors examine how firearms move from legal to illegal possession and are used in criminal activity. The researchers collected data from firearms trace data, focusing on guns involved in violent crime, and prisoner interviews/surveys. Interviews were used to fill the gaps in information from trace studies, which are limited to state municipalities. Both types of data were collected from three cities, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Prince George’s County (PGC) in Maryland, and Chicago. The trace data results showed that the largest proportion of successfully traced guns were “straw purchases.” Straw purchases describe guns that were purchased legally by an individual and given to another for illicit purposes. New Orleans had the highest percent of straw purchased guns at 14.2% followed by Chicago at 12.1%, and finally PGC at 10.5%. The data also showed that recovery time for crime guns was fastest in cases where the purchaser possessed the gun when compared to straw purchases or multi-gun purchases. Results from the prisoner interviews showed that purchasing a gun “on the street” was the most popular method across all jurisdictions to access guns for crime (more than 50.7%). Other similar answers in all jurisdictions included asking a family member or friend (28.2%) and gun shop/ads/mail order (19.7%).