Gaps continue in firearm Surveillance: Evidence from a large U.S. city Bureau of Police

Anthony Fabio, Jessica Duell, Kathleen Creppage, Kerry O'Donnell, Ron Laporte

Abstract


Word Count: 330

While the broad relationship between violence, poor health outcomes and firearms is well-established, there is limited research in the public health field on the source of guns collected by police departments, many of which are used for violent crime that results in injury or death. This data could be valuable for purposes of improving surveillance around violent crime and health outcomes as well as for evaluating prevention strategies and future programs that aim to reduce gun violence.
The objectives of this study are to describe how guns come into police possession, identify the primary source of these guns, determine how guns leave possession of lawful owners, and determine disposition of guns and perpetrators. In order to meet the objectives, we analyzed data on 762 cases in which a gun was recovered by the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Firearm Tracking Unit (FTU). Descriptive analyses were conducted.
Most cases involve a single perpetrator. Traffic stop and street patrol accounted for 31% of method of recovery. Most perpetrators were carrying a gun that did not belong to them – 79%. More than 30% of the guns recovered were reported stolen by owners when the FTU contacted them. For 44% of the guns, whether the gun was stolen was either unknown or not able to be determined. In most cases, individual owners did not know how they lost possession of their firearm (62 percent).
Currently there is no way to track firearms from a legal purchase into hands that do not have legal ownership even through official police data. A large number of guns recovered are taken from persons who are not the lawful owner of the gun. In the majority of cases, the guns were privately owned, as opposed to being traced back to a dealer. How the guns left the possession of their lawful owners is unknown, and collecting this data proves to be challenging. Future studies should be conducted to assess the pathway in which guns travel from legal to illegal ownership.

Keywords


Injury; Violence; Suicide; Firearms; Guns; Police

Full Text:

PDF

References


Wintemute, GJ. The Epidemiology of Firearm Violence in the Twenty-First Century United States Annu Rev of Public Health 2015;36: 5-19.

Singh GK. Youth Mortality in the United States, 1935-2007: Large and Persistent Disparities in Injury and Violent Deaths. A 75th Anniversary Publication. Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.

United States Department of Justice FBoI. Crime in the United States, 2012. October, 2013 ed: U.S. Department of Justice, 2012.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.. WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). Secondary WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System). http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars/. Accessed September 3, 2010 - 2011.

Wintemute GJ, Cook PJ, Wright MA. Risk factors among handgun retailers for frequent and disproportionate sales of guns used in violent and firearm related crimes. Inj Prev. 2005;11(6):357-363.

Siegel M, Ross CS, King C. Examining the relationship between the prevalence of guns and homicide rates in the USA using a new and improved state-level gun ownership proxy. Inj Prev. 2014; 20(6):424-426.

Braga AA, Kennedy DM. The illicit acquisition of firearms by youth and juveniles. Journal of Criminal Justice. 2001; 29(5):379-388

Cook PJ, Braga AA. Comprehensive firearms tracing: strategic and investigative uses of new data on firearms markets. Ariz. L. Rev. 2001;43:277

Bureau of Alcohol TF. Following the gun: Enforcing federal laws against firearms traffickers. In: Treasury Dot, ed., 2000.

Braga AA, Wintemute GJ, Pierce GL, Cook PJ, Ridgeway G. Interpreting the empirical evidence on illegal gun market dynamics. Journal of Urban Health 2012; 89(5):779-793

Wachtel J. Sources of crime guns in Los Angeles, California. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management 1998; 21(2):220-239

Wintemute GJ, Romero MP, Wright MA, Grassel KM. The life cycle of crime guns: a description based on guns recovered from young people in California. Annals of emergency med 2004; 43(6):733-742

Kuhn EM1, Nie CL, O'Brien ME, Withers RL, Wintemute GJ, Hargarten SW. Missing the target: a comparison of buyback and fatality related guns. Inj Prev. 2002; 8(2):143-146.

Buckles BA. Crime Gun Trace Reports (2000) Pittsburgh PA. In: Department of the Treasury BoA, Tobacco and Firearms, ed., 2002.

Bureau of Alcohol TF. 2012 Summary: Firearms Reported Lost and Stolen. In: Treasury Dot, ed., 2012.

Brill S. The traffic (legal and illegal) in guns. Harper's. 1977:37-44

Bradford KD, Gundlach GT, Wilkie WL. Countermarketing in the courts: The case of marketing channels and firearms diversion. Journal of Public Policy & Marketing 2005;24(2):284-298

Wintemute G. Firearm retailers’ willingness to participate in an illegal gun purchase. Journal of Urban Health. 2010;87(5):865-878

Sorenson SB, Vittes KA. Buying a handgun for someone else: firearm dealer willingness to sell. Inj Prev. 2003;9(2):147-50.

Brandl SG, Stroshine MS. The Relationship Between Gun and Gun Buyer Characteristics and Firearm Time-to-Crime. Criminal Justice Policy Review. 2011;22(3):285-300

Koper CS. Crime gun risk factors: buyer, seller, firearm, and transaction characteristics associated with gun trafficking and criminal gun use. Journal of quantitative criminology. 2014;30(2):285-315

Wintemute GJ, Cook PJ, Wright MA. Risk factors among handgun retailers for frequent and disproportionate sales of guns used in violent and firearm related crimes. Inj Prev. 2005;11(6):357-63

Wright MA, Wintemute GJ, Webster DW. Factors affecting a recently purchased handgun’s risk for use in crime under circumstances that suggest gun trafficking. Journal of Urban Health. 2010;87(3):352-364

Pittsburgh's Racial Demographics: Differences and Disparities: University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work, Center on Race and Social Problems, 2007.

Pierce GL, Braga AA, Hayatt Jr RR, Koper CS. Characteristics and dynamics of illegal firearms markets: implications for a supply-side enforcement strategy. Justice Quarterly. 2004;21(2):391-422


 

Please feel free to comment on this article:

blog comments powered by Disqus


Editorial Offices:

Department of Family and Social Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center
Bronx, New York, 10461

Asociación Latinoamericana de Medicina Social (ALAMES)/Latin American Social Medicine Association:
ALAMES, Southern Cone Region, Cassinoni 1440 – 802, CP 11200 Montevideo, Uruguay.
ALAMES, Mexico Region, San Jerónimo 70 – 1, Col. La Otra Banda, CP 01090, México, D.F.