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Amy Traub

Weak State Gun Laws Put Cities in the Line of Fire

No city is an island. You can tighten municipal gun laws and fill the streets with police, but a flood of illicit firearms trafficked in from the loosely regulated state next door will still endanger the public’s safety. That’s why city leaders across the country have banded together to form Mayors Against Illegal Guns, chaired by New York’s Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The organization’s new report (pdf) provides updated evidence of the link between weak state gun laws and interstate gun trafficking.

Using data collected by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, researchers analyzed where the guns used to commit crimes nationwide were originally purchased. The study doesn’t concern itself with the legal property of sportsmen or law-abiding citizens keeping a weapon for self-defense: by definition these are guns used to commit crimes. 30 percent of the traceable guns used in crimes in 2009 crossed state lines, and roughly half of those weapons came from just ten states, places with particularly weak regulations on the sale of firearms. Finally, the report provides evidence that many of these guns were illegally trafficked – deliberately purchased in states with lax guns laws and sold on the black market.

The conclusion is clear:

“The states with the weakest gun laws are the top suppliers of the guns recovered in out-of-state crimes and are also the source of a greater proportion of likely trafficked guns… This association strongly suggests that gun traffickers favor these states as sources and that effective gun laws are an important tool in reducing criminal access to trafficked guns. Enacting common-sense gun laws may reduce criminal access to trafficked guns in the United States.”

Lax state gun laws in Indiana are killing kids in Chicago. West Virginia’s failure to jail gun dealers who are caught falsifying gun purchase information or violating background check requirements has armed criminals in Newark. The data is strong. The challenge is convincing legislators in Mississippi, Kentucky and the rest to buck the NRA and make reasonable reforms.

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Posted at 11:01 AM, Sep 27, 2010 in Criminal Justice
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