Interstate Gun Movement Could Be Entirely Due to Migration Rather than Gun Trafficking
41 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2018 Last revised: 2 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 31, 2020
Many scholars and gun control advocates assert that gun trafficking is critical to supplying firearms to America’s criminals. Tracing of the origins of crime guns indicates that many of them came from a different state than the one in which they were recovered by police. Many scholars have interpreted this fact as evidence of widespread interstate gun trafficking. The present analysis uses migration and survey data on gun ownership to demonstrate that simple cross-state migration of American gun owners is easily sufficient to account for all of the interstate movement of guns. Therefore, tracing data cannot provide unambiguous evidence of interstate gun trafficking. The other main source of evidence marshalled to support the trafficking model is law enforcement data on caught traffickers, but this information indicates that these criminals operate on a very small scale, and in the aggregate account for less than 1% of guns acquired by criminals.
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