The Last Link: from Gun Acquisition to Criminal Use.
Guns that are used in crime and recovered by the police typically have changed hands often since first retail sale and are quite old. While there is an extensive literature on "time to crime" for guns, defined as the elapsed time from first retail sale to known use in a crime, there is little information available on the duration of the "last link"-the elapsed time from the transaction that actually provided the offender with the gun in question. In this article, we use data from the new Chicago Inmate Survey (CIS) to estimate the duration of the last link. The median is just 2 months. Many of the gun-involved respondents to the CIS (42%) did not have any gun 6 months prior to their arrest for the current crime. The CIS respondents were almost all barred from purchasing a gun from a gun store because of their prior criminal record-as a result, their guns were obtained by illegal transactions with friends, relatives, and the underground market. We conclude that more effective enforcement of the laws governing gun transactions may have a quick and pervasive effect on gun use in crime.
Cook, PJ; Pollack, HA; White, K
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