States with weak gun laws contribute to illegal sales, report says
States with weak gun laws are disproportionately the top sources of guns recovered in out-of-state crimes, according to a report released in late September by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a bipartisan coalition of mayors formed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. “Trace the Guns: The Link Between Gun Laws and Interstate Gun Trafficking,” which analyzes 2009 crime gun trace data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), also found that that states with weak gun laws provide a greater proportion of guns recovered in crimes shortly after the weapons’ initial purchase — one of ATF’s key indicators of illegal gun trafficking.
According to the 2009 trace data analyzed in the report, 10 states accounted for 49 percent of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes: Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, and Georgia. Those same states also are the source of a greater proportion of guns that were recovered in crimes less than two years after their initial purchase — a measure known as the gun’s “time-to-crime.” According to ATF, a time-to-crime of less than two years is a strong indicator the gun was illegally trafficked. “The stakes are high: 12,000 people per year are murdered with guns in the United States,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “There is urgent work to be done by policy makers at all levels to strengthen enforcement of the laws we have on the books, and to close gaps in state and federal law.”
The 10 states that supply guns at the highest rates have, on average, 1.4 of the 10 laws designed to deter illegal trafficking in place — including laws against “straw purchasers” (people who are legally qualified to buy guns but who do so with the intent to sell the firearms illegally) and gun permit restrictions. The 10 states that supply interstate crime guns at the lowest rates have an average of 8.2 of the 10 laws.