Where Criminals Get Their Guns — Part II

Part I here.

Home burglaries are the major source of guns for criminals, according to Florida State University professor Gary Kleck writing in the Wall Street Journal today. Burglaries net thieves 400,000 to 600,000 guns per year. The media, the ATF, and liberal politicians want us to believe that people buy large volumes of guns from licensed gun dealers in states with “lax gun laws” (i.e., states that uphold liberty, personal dignity, the right of self defense, and the United States Constitution) and re-sell them in tough gun law states at a huge markup. Kleck says that’s a myth. Less than 1% of guns in the hands of criminals are obtained from high-volume traffickers (250 guns or more) and these traffickers don’t buy guns from gun stores. The typical trafficker deals in less than a dozen guns at a time. Unless they have the connections to conduct illegal importation of guns from outside the U.S. (and why would any criminal do that with all the money to be made in illegal drugs?), traffickers stock their inventories by buying guns one at a time from burglars who steal them one at a time.

Kleck and his colleague Kevin Wang gathered data and reached their conclusions by examining federal crime data and the findings of law enforcement authorities.

Kleck concludes:

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that strategies aimed at reducing gun trafficking are unlikely to have any measurable effect on gun violence in the U.S. or Mexico. Criminals have plenty of other ways to get guns.

One thing that might reduce guns in the hands of criminals would be to persuade gun owners who don’t already own a gun safe to buy one.  Some who need a gun for personal protection can barely afford the gun so asking them to buy a gun safe is not a realistic option. Their gun is probably “on duty” as a defense tool most of the time anyway.  It’s also a fact that criminal ingenuity means that whenever one source is foreclosed a new source is going to be found.

It’s not mentioned by Kleck, but another way criminals get guns, aside from residential burglaries, is that every year law enforcement agencies manage to lose a lot of guns that are never recovered. Many or most of these will inevitably end up in the hands of criminals. See Part I above.

Reading all of Kleck’s article is well worth your while.

UPDATE: The blatant lie that Mexican drug lords are getting their guns from licensed gun stores in the United States lives on because a lie can be half way around the world before the truth can get its pants on in the morning. See, Dear Bono, Get Your Facts Straight.

UPDATE II: There is gun running across the border but it doesn’t involve U.S. gun dealers. It is due to government corruption and dirty cops on both sides of the border. Stories here and here.

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