Gun shows in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Research and studies
In 2000, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) published the "Following the Gun" report. The ATF analyzed more than 1,530 trafficking investigations over a two-and-a-half-year period and found gun shows to be the second leading source of illegally diverted guns in the nation. "Straw purchasing was the most common channel in trafficking investigations." These investigations involved a total of 84,128 firearms that had been diverted from legal to illegal commerce. All told, the report identified more than 26,000 firearms that had been illegally trafficked through gun shows in 212 separate investigations. The report stated that: "A prior review of ATF gun show investigations shows that prohibited persons, such as convicted felons and juveniles, do personally buy firearms at gun shows and gun shows are sources of firearms that are trafficked to such prohibited persons. The gun show review found that firearms were diverted at and through gun shows by straw purchasers, unregulated private sellers, and licensed dealers. Felons were associated with selling or purchasing firearms in 46 percent of the gun show investigations. Firearms that were illegally diverted at or through gun shows were recovered in subsequent crimes, including homicide and robbery, in more than a third of the gun show investigations."
In contrast, a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report on “Firearms Use by Offenders” found that only 0.8% of prison inmates reported acquiring firearms used in their crimes "At a gun show," with repeat offenders less likely than first-time offenders to report acquiring firearms from a retail source, gun show or flea market. This 2001 study examined data from a 1997 Department of Justice survey of more than 18,000 federal and state prison inmates in 1,409 State prisons and 127 Federal prisons. The remaining 99.2% of inmates reported obtaining firearms from other sources, including "From a friend/family member" (36.8%), "Off the street/from a drug dealer" (20.9%), "From a fence/black market source" (9.6%), "From a pawnshop," "From a flea market," "From the victim," or "In a burglary." 9% of inmates replied "Don't Know/Other" to the question of where they acquired a firearm and 4.4% refused to answer. The Department of Justice did not attempt to verify the firearms reported in the survey or trace them to determine their chain of possession from original retail sale to the time they were transferred to the inmates surveyed (in cases where inmates were not the original retail purchaser).
Gun-control advocate Garen Wintemute, Director of UC Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program, released a study in 2007 claiming that gun shows are a venue for illegal activity, including straw purchases and unlicensed sales to prohibited individuals. In contrast, in 2008, professors Mark Duggan and Randi Hjalmarsson at the University of Maryland and Brian Jacob from the University of Michigan released a paper that found no evidence that gun shows lead to substantial increases in either gun homicides or gun suicides. The study looked at 2,200 gun shows in Texas and almost 1,200 gun shows in California during the period of 1994–2004 and examined their effect on gun homicide and gun suicide rates within a 25-mile radius of the shows in the four weeks immediately following their conclusion. The researchers stated that, “Taken together, our results suggest that gun shows do not increase the number of homicides or suicides and that the absence of gun show regulations does not increase the number of gun-related deaths as proponents of these regulations suggest.” However, the Duggan, et al., paper was critiqued publicly by other researchers from the University of California, Davis, the Harvard School of Public Health, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Northeastern University, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and the University of California, Berkeley. These researchers critiqued the model underlying the paper for failing to reflect the realities of the operations of gun markets and the dynamics of criminal gun use.