The Problem: Criminals have too many opportunities to circumvent the ban on gun sales to convicted felons and those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.
Many wrongly believe that most crime guns are stolen from legal gun owners. The truth is that most guns used to commit crimes are purchased from legally licensed gun dealers before being sold multiple times. About 500,000 guns are stolen each year. In 1999, only 11% of recovered crime guns were possessed by the people who had originally purchased them from a licensed gun dealer.
There are more than 4,000 gun shows in the United States each year, and few states require background checks and record keeping at gun shows.
Closing the Loopholes: Outlaw unlicensed individuals from selling guns without background checks. In unlicensed gun sales, there is no requirement to submit gun purchasers to background checks as federally licensed gun dealers must do under the Brady Law.
Limit people to one gun purchase a month. This prevents people from buying multiple guns and reselling them to others who are legally prohibited from owning guns, such as felons and persons convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.
Register all handguns. Handgun registration would keep guns away from criminals by allowing law enforcement to trace crime guns to their original owners, thus discouraging gun trafficking and straw purchases – when people buy guns on behalf of others who are legally prohibited from doing so.
Think Locally and Nationally: Most crime guns in 1999, including most guns recovered from persons under age 18, were first sold by licensed dealers in the state in which they were recovered. Nearly a third of guns recovered from persons under age 18 were first sold in the county or adjoining county in which they were recovered. By preventing criminals from buying guns locally, we can directly reduce the number of local gun crimes. Local gun control laws work, but in locations with tough gun laws, interstate gun trafficking does much to fill the void. While local efforts prove the effectiveness of gun control at preventing gun access to criminals, nationwide leadership is also required to end the gun violence epidemic in America.
Sources: “Where the Guns Come from: The Gun Industry and Gun Commerce” by Garen J. Wintemut, 2002. “National Vital Statistics Reports”Vol. 49, no. 81 by Hoyert, D.L. et al, 2000. “Crime gun trace reports (1999)” by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 2000. “Regulating gun markets” by Cook, P.J., Molliconi, S. and Cole, T.B., 1995. “Guns in America: Results of a comprehensive national survey on firearms ownership and use” by Cook, P.J. and Ludwig, J., 1996.