ATF profiles local illegal firearms markets
In February 1999, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued results of a study conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), in which guns used in crimes were traced for 22 U.S. cities with populations of 250,000 or larger and five smaller jurisdictions. The traces were conducted between Aug. 1, 1997, and July 31, 1998.
According to the report, “crime guns recovered from juveniles (ages 17 and under) accounted for 11.3 percent of the firearms submitted to the National Tracing Center.” Additionally, crime guns recovered from youth (ages 17 to 24) made up 32.4 percent of the trace requests. According to the ATF, “There are more crime guns recovered from [youth] than from any other seven-year age grouping in the juvenile or adult categories.”
The report also states that for the jurisdictions studied: * The most frequent age of crime gun possession was 19, and the second most frequent age was 18. * More crime guns were recovered from 15-year-olds than from any age older than 31, and more crime guns were received from 14-year-olds than from any age older than 50. * 8.1 of every 10 crime guns traced were handguns. * Of handguns, semiautomatic pistols predominate, making up the top category of guns recovered in each city and 52 percent of all trace requests. * Revolvers made up 27.6 percent of total crime gun trace requests. * Long guns, including shotguns and rifles, accounted for 18.8 percent of total trace requests. * Many recovered firearms are rapidly diverted from first retail sales at federally licensed gun dealers to an illegal market (through straw purchases or off-the-book sales) that supplies juveniles, youth and adults. * The obliteration of firearm serial numbers has become a significant and measurable problem. For a complete copy of the report, visit the ATF web site at www.atf.treas.gov/firearms.