Monday, December 05, 2005

Why Guns Need To Be Controlled In America

Judge Jack Weinstein spelled out how firearms makers flood New York with illegal weapons when he upheld the city's right to sue last week. Here's how he summed up the charges:

The United States leads the world in the number of people and in the number of children who die and are injured each year by guns. The yearly toll of several thousand persons killed compares to no more than a few hundred per year in every other industrialized country. A teenager in the United States is more likely to die from a gunshot wound than from all natural causes combined.

Firearms are by far the preferred method of murder in New York City, and are used in approximately 60% of the murders committed each year. In 1996, 652 people were murdered with a firearm in New York City; in 1997, 465 were murdered with guns; in 1998, 375; and in 1999, 391.

Approximately double the number of persons are injured by the criminal use of firearms with over 2,000 criminal shooting victims reported each year in New York City.

Firearms are also used in connection with many crimes other than murder. [In] 1998, for example, of the 39,358 reported robberies in the city, 7,640 or approximately 20% involved the use of firearm.

In that same year, of the 2,181 reported felony reckless endangerment cases, 23% involved the use of a firearm and 20% of menacing cases also involved the use of a firearm. These figures are typical of more recent years.

In the period from Aug. 1, 1997, through July 31, 1998, the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, through its National Firearms Tracing Database, traced 8,437 guns used in crimes in New York City. The 8,437 crime guns traced were used in the commission of 433 robberies, 309 assaults/threats, 278 homicides, 143 narcotics crimes, 101 burglaries/thefts/frauds, and 7,123 firearms-related offenses. ... The actual number of defendants'"crime guns" used in New York City over the last five years is vastly higher.


Criminals are an important market segment for the gun industry. Recent analyses have shown that 11% of handguns sold between 1996 and 2000 were used in violent crimes by the year 2000; 18% of handguns sold in the year 1990 were in the hands of violent criminals or used in violent crimes by the year 2000.

Recent analyses have shown that guns move quickly from the legal to the illegal market; 13% of guns recovered in crimes were recovered within one year of their sale, and 30% were recovered within three years of their first sale.

ATF trace data indicates that as many as 43% of guns used in crimes in urban centers across the U.S. were purchased from retail dealers less than three years prior to commission of the crime.


Straw purchases, wherein the purchaser buys the gun from a licensed dealer for a person who is not qualified to purchase the firearm under federal and state regulations, are a source of firearms for the secondary market. In one recent law enforcement study, more than 50% of the firearms subject to firearm trafficking investigations had been acquired as part of a straw purchase.


According to a recent ATF study, just 1.2% of dealers accounted for over 57% of the crime guns traced to current dealers in 1998. ... A congressional study of ATF data found that an extraordinary proportion of crime guns were purchased from the same"high crime" gun dealers. The same 137 dealers were the source of more than 34,000 crime guns between 1996 and 1998.


Defendants produce, market and distribute substantially more handguns than they reasonably expect to sell to law-abiding purchasers. They oversupply states with weak handgun controls and restrictions, such as certain southern states along the I-95 corridor, with substantially more handguns than they know or should know will be purchased by legitimate purchasers in those states.


Over 84% of the crime guns recovered in New York City come from out of state. Of these crime guns, the top source states were Virginia (414), Florida (329), Georgia (282), North Carolina (268), South Carolina (224), Pennsylvania (159), Ohio (136), Alabama (106) and Texas (99).

Handguns manufactured, imported or distributed by defendants are acquired in states and cities where gun regulations are lax, diverted to the illegal market in New York, and used to cause injury, death or the threat thereof to residents of the City of New York.