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The Illegal Supply of Firearms

Anthony A. Braga, Philip J. Cook, David M. Kennedy and Mark H. Moore
Crime and Justice
Vol. 29 (2002), pp. 319-352
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1147711
Page Count: 34
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The Illegal Supply of Firearms
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Abstract

The case for focusing regulatory and enforcement efforts on the illegal supply of firearms to criminals rests on the belief that a supply-side approach has the potential to reduce the use of guns in violence. The case against this focus follows from the belief that guns in America are so readily available, and from such a variety of sources, that efforts to restrict the supply are futile. Individuals who are proscribed from buying guns legally (because of their criminal record or youth) tend to acquire firearms from "point" sources, such as illegal traffickers and scofflaw dealers, and "diffuse sources," including all sorts of informal transfers from the vast stock of weapons in private hands. Both are important. The mix within a jurisdiction appears to depend on the prevalence of gun ownership and the stringency of state regulations. A variety of promising supply-side measures are available, and some have been tried. Lessons have been learned-for example, that gun "buybacks" are ineffective-but for the most part any conclusions necessarily are speculative. Systematic "experimentation" with different tactics appears warranted.

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