Everyday an average of 93 Americans die from gunshot wounds, and three times as many people are left with severe injuries and are put in the hospital from them. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Firearm trafficking in and out of the United States has been a problem for decades, and it has been stated by several different sources that the majority of crimes that involve a firearm around the world are not committed by the original legal owner of the weapon. Crimes that involve a firearm are a very serious issue that happens very often and there are some solutions that may help reduce the crime rate.
Licensed weapons dealers are the main channel for small arms trade. Many gun shops sell cheap hand guns popular with criminals, often called “Saturday night special. (Webster & friends) These weapons are often used in the many armed robberies, fatal shootings, and other heinous crimes that occur due to their fast availability and low cost. In 2011 in the United States, firearms were used in 414,562 different crimes resulting in 467,321 different victims that were either killed or hospitalized. (www.NIJ.gov) The statistics of these crimes may be relative to the supply of guns in certain regions. The different types of guns that certain firearm dealerships make available can drastically determine crime rate numbers in nearby communities and distance ones as well. The “Saturday night specials” or “SNSs”, are generally a weapon that would be the preferred choice of gang members and drug operations as well. In 1990, Maryland banned the sell and possession of SNS firearms, and saw a 9% reduction of firearm related crimes. (Webster & Friends) Banning those small cheap guns would be a great way to lower firearm crimes but, but obviously the circumstances of gun violence vary so much, that it would be crazy to think a single solution would solve the problem. A complex plan with many protective options is needed to bring down the amount of global death and injury involving firearms.
The availability of guns is the biggest factor that leads to all the shooting sprees and armed robberies that happen all over the world. Small guns are smuggled from countries with weaker laws to those with stronger laws, just as in America, guns get smuggled from states with weaker laws to those with stronger restrictions. There is no existing federal law that prohibits anyone from purchasing more than one or even hundreds of firearms at one time. There are three states in the United States that have one-gun-per-month laws that limit the purchase of a firearm to a maximum of one per 30-day period, with a few exceptions. Putting these kinds of laws in place in all the states in the U.S. would make it way harder for criminals to buy multiple small firearms with the intent to sell them on the black market to people that are prohibited by law to own one.
According to a novel analysis released in July of 2016 by the University of Pittsburgh, lawful gun owners commit less than one fifth of all the gun crimes that occur in America. Epidemiologist Anthony Fabio of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health led the study and researchers worked with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to find out exactly where all 893 guns that police found at crime scenes in the year 2008 originated from. The findings in the study were shocking. 62% of all the guns that were found, the place where the owner lost possession of the firearm was unknown. “we have a lot of people with a lot of guns, and some of them aren’t keeping track of them for different reasons. Maybe because they have a lot of them and they don’t use them that often.” (Ingraham) Fabio said this in referencing statistics on the large number of guns in circulation. But every gun that goes out on the street starts off as a legal sale. When a criminal wants a gun, they can become very resourceful and creative. This is why firearm theft is a lot a huge problem.
Thousands of firearms are lost or stolen from people’s homes every single year, and guns are even stolen right from the gun stores. Laws that require immediate reporting of thefts help keep the legal owners out of trouble. Without these laws in place, whenever a crime occurs and the weapon is recovered, the legal owner can just say the gun was lost or stolen a long time ago and there would be no proof that the legal owner was or was not involved in the crime. This makes is easier for people to buy many guns and sell them to other criminals and say they went missing. There are only 10 states that make it mandatory by law to report a lost or stolen firearm. These states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, and Georgia. (www.smartgunlaws.org) Making it mandatory to report lost or stolen firearms in all 50 states in America would make it harder for criminals to traffic stolen guns to other criminals that don’t qualify to possess one in the United States and around the world. But theft is not the only loophole that criminals have found. In the world of crime, money talks that loudest and when you have enough money, you can buy whatever you want.
Federal law does not require a background check for the intended possessor or when a buyer acquires a firearm from a private seller. (Sorenson, Vittes) This means that certain misdemeanants, convicted felons and many other categories of prohibited people may be able to possess firearms under the radar. Fifteen states require background checks for private sales of handguns, but even in those states enforcement may be limited. As a result, people without a criminal history can purchase firearms from a dealer and then sell them to prohibited purchasers with little risk. Sometimes guns are legally purchased for someone who does not qualify. This is a so-called “straw purchase.” A straw purchase is defined as when a person who is authorized to purchase a firearm buys one for someone who is not so authorized or when the purchaser conceals the identity of the true intended receiver of the firearm(s). (Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; glossary) According to a study by Wright, MA and friends, only 8% of guns purchased are purchased by woman. It is frequent that the woman is buying the firearm for a boyfriend or husband that is not lawfully allowed to purchase it himself. The study concluded that the chances of a gun purchased by a woman will be used in a crime is extremely high. (Wright & Friends) Laws regulating private sales could reduce trafficking by holding the private seller accountable for an unlawful sale. Laws requiring firearms to be registered would help lower firearm crimes and smuggling because the legal owners would keep track of them better and protect them. And the weapons would be better monitored as far as where they are located so they cannot be lost.
People in the business of selling firearms in the United States must obtain a federal firearms license issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), and maintain records of the guns they have in stock and all of the guns that they sell. Corrupt firearm dealers are an important source of guns for criminals. It has been discovered that there are a few legal firearm dealerships that have supplied a ridiculous amount of the guns recovered from crimes, to the criminals that committed them. Even when these dealerships are uncovered, it is hard to shut them down or punish them because the stores are not technically breaking any laws. The weak penalties dealers can face for violating the firearm laws that are in place, and the frequency with which dealers’ licenses are revoked, also both limit the effectiveness of the United States anti-trafficking efforts. (www.smartgunlaws.org) Under a federal law enacted in 1986, BATFE was limited in its ability to inspect and punish dealers who funnel guns to criminals. Only 17 states require a state license, and only two mandate regular inspection of gun stores. More intense monitoring of gun stores and harsher punishments for perpetrators will help bring down the rate of illegal arms trafficking.
Illegal weapons traffic is a serious problem. As law enforcement continues to learn about the strategies and loopholes that are used to help smugglers be successful, new laws and restrictions are applied. Sometimes these restrictions get in the way of the law abiding citizen and a new firearm that he wants to own. Sometimes the restrictions may seem tedious at the time, but when the bigger picture is viewed, it should be deemed worth it to feel safer. Waiting a little longer to receive a weapon that is to be used for sports, or doing a little more paper work to receive the firearm should be worth that ever having it use the firearm to protect yourself or your family from a criminal that jumped through a loophole. New policies seem to be working, as crime involving a firearm has dropped tremendously since 1994. In 1994 there were 1,287,190 firearm violence incidents, resulting in 1,568,176 victims. In 2011 the count dropped to 414,562 incidents with new policies in place. (www.NIJ.gov) Crimes that involve a firearm are a very serious issue that happens very often and these solutions may help reduce the crime rate as well as maintain the right available to us by the 2nd Amendment to legally owe a firearm if we are allowed to.
(Fabio, Anthony, et. al,2016) Chart Picture Accessed August 2nd, 2017
(Ingraham, Christopher) “New evidence confirms what gun rights advocates have said for a long time about crime.” Accessed August 2nd, 2017
Pictures from (www.Googleimages.com) Accessed August 9th, 2107
(Sorenson, S, Vittes, K) “Buying a handgun for someone else: firearm dealer willingness to sell.” Accessed August 2nd, 2017
(Webster, D, Hepburn, L, Vernick, J) “Relationship between licensing, registration, and other gun sales laws and the source state of crime guns” Accessed August 2nd, 2017
(Wright, MA, Webster, DW, Wintemute, GJ) “Factors affecting a recently purchased handgun’s risk for use in crime under circumstances that suggest gun trafficking” Accessed August 2nd, 2017
(www.everytownresearch.org) Data from U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Accessed August 2nd, 2017
(www.nij.gov) “Gun violence” Accessed August 2nd, 2017
(www.smartgunlaws.org) “Gun Dealers” Accessed August 2nd, 2017