Newly Released Crime Gun Data Shows States With Weak Gun Laws Fuel Illegal Gun Market

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Newly Released Crime Gun Data Shows States With Weak Gun Laws Fuel Illegal Gun Market

Mississippi, West Virginia and Alabama Have Highest Crime Gun Export Rates

WASHINGTON - Gun dealers in states with weak gun laws supply guns to criminals in other states at a rate more than five times higher than dealers in states with stronger gun laws, according to a Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence analysis of newly released ATF crime gun trace data.  The data was released Monday by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) for crime guns recovered and traced in 2008.

The data shows that in states with strong gun laws, criminals find it more difficult to obtain guns from local sources and frequently must obtain guns from traffickers supplied by out-of-state gun dealers.  This fuels the “iron pipeline” described in past federal law enforcement reports.

“States with strong gun laws protect their communities by making it more difficult for criminals to get firearms,” said Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence President Paul Helmke.  “States with weak gun laws are the top suppliers of the illegal gun market nationwide, making it too easy for dangerous people to get deadly weapons.”

Interstate Gun Trafficking – Crime Gun Exports

The Brady Center analysis also ranked the states based on their contribution to interstate gun trafficking.  The Center measured each state’s per capita rate of crime gun exports – guns moving across state lines before being recovered in crime.  Mississippi was number one with the highest rate of crime gun exports, followed by West Virginia, Alabama, Virginia, and South Carolina. 

These states have weak gun laws making it easy for criminals to get firearms, scoring fewer than 20 out of 100 on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 2008 state scorecard.  Hawaii and New Jersey had the lowest rates of crime gun exports, with rates of less than one crime gun export per 100,000 people.  Hawaii and New Jersey rank among the top ten states with the strongest gun laws on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 2008 state scorecard, making it harder for criminals in those states to get illegal guns.

Georgia led the states with the highest total number of crime gun exports, not adjusted for population.  Florida had the second highest total number of crime gun exports, followed by Virginia, Texas and Indiana.  All five states have weak gun laws making it easy for criminals to get firearms, scoring fewer than 20 out of 100 on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 2008 state scorecard.

Supplying the Criminal Market – Crime Guns Supplied to Criminals In-State and Nationwide

The Brady Center also ranked the states based on their per capita rate of all crime gun sales – crime guns traced to gun dealers in a state and recovered in crime both in-state and out of state.  Louisiana was number one with the highest rate of crime guns recovered both in and out of state, followed by Arizona, Alabama, Indiana, and Georgia. 

All five states have weak gun laws making it easy for criminals to get firearms, scoring fewer than 20 out of 100 on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 2008 state scorecard.  Hawaii and Massachusetts had the lowest rates of total crime gun sales.  Hawaii and Massachusetts rank among the top ten states with the strongest gun laws on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence 2008 state scorecard, making it harder for criminals in those states to get illegal guns.

Methodology

The Brady Center determined state rankings based on ATF crime gun trace data released on August 3, 2009.  The Brady Center analysis determined that gun dealers in states with weak gun laws supply criminals in other states with guns at a rate more than five times higher than in states with stronger gun laws by comparing 2008 per capita crime gun trace rates among the states having the strongest gun laws and weakest gun laws on the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence’s 2008 annual state scorecard.  States with a score of fewer than 5 out of 100 had a per capita crime gun trace export rate more than five times higher than states that scored more than 40 out of 100.

The scorecard rates each state on the strength of its gun laws, and is available at http://www.stategunlaws.org/xshare/pdf/scorecard/2008/2008_scorecard_rankings.pdf.

ATF officials released a broad general set of crime gun trace data on the agency’s website on August 3, 2009. The data is at http://www.atf.gov/firearms/trace_data/index2008.htm.

 

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The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence.

We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.

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