How criminals acquire illegal weapons in the US

We bring to your attention the translation of a small note on the ways of acquiring firearms by criminal elements in the USA, and conclusions on how to influence illegal weapons and how to reduce the number of crimes. and is it possible at all by the methods that are now popular with the governments of civilized countries …

Not so long ago, in Las Vegas, there was a massive shooting, as a result of which dozens of people were killed and hundreds were injured. However, this case is not the only one – mass executions have happened before, and will continue to happen (and not only in the USA – ed.). We are not going to analyze the psychological reasons for committing such crimes now, but ask ourselves two important questions for all of us:

– How are people so dangerous for society get weapons?
– What should the government do to complicate the acquisition of weapons by such people?

To begin with, the weapon used by criminals was not acquired in 99.9% of cases in accordance with the law. Traffickers who sell illegal weapons on the black market do not face any consequences when their goods are used to commit a crime.

That is why the next question we have to ask ourselves:

– How can you more effectively control the “black” market of illegal weapons? And can it be controlled at all?

The answer is that you need to do something with unregistered and unregulated operations (we recall that we are talking about weapons in the United States, where for the most part its acquisition is not recorded in the databases – editor’s note).

The overwhelming majority of gun owners will answer that all their weapons were legally acquired and everything was properly registered. And if you check their documents – it may be so in reality. But at the same time, no one can guarantee that a person does not have an illegal trunk hidden.

For reference:
In Russia, the CIS countries and some European countries, things are much easier with this – after all, the acquisition and storage of any type of civilian weapons requires a mandatory permit obtained by the police. When carrying the weapon out of the house, you must also have all the documents with you. While this may be a nuisance to the owners, the police can check the legality of such weapons at any time.

When among Americans, they surveyed where and how they acquired their firearms, about 64% of those polled reported buying them at a specialized gun shop, where the seller registered the number of the weapon and documented its transfer to the new owner. Another 14% made a purchase in some other way, but still with the registration number. The remaining 22% reported that they made a purchase without registration. And this is despite the fact that we cannot be completely sure of the veracity of the previous 78 percent.

In the case of criminals, weapons acquired illegally or obtained in the overwhelming majority of cases.

The sale of weapons may be illegal for several reasons. Of particular interest are transactions involving individuals who are prohibited from buying or possessing weapons because of problems with the law, age, mental illness, illegal status, or for some other reason.

Persons who have a criminal record, teenagers and other people who legally cannot own firearms will not be able to make a purchase at a legal gun shop. Anyone who provides / sells weapons to such people will also be guilty, especially if it turns out that it was with the help of these illegal weapons that the crime was committed.

The particular importance of the black market for criminals can be traced back to the results of statistics collected on weapons confiscated by police in the United States. It was found that only 10% of men (aged 18–40) who confessed to having a weapon at the time of their arrest purchased it at the store. The remaining 90% received weapons illegally: for example, as “gifts” from unidentified persons, or by buying from representatives of criminal organizations.

There is some supply chain for illegal weapons.

Although the criminals themselves do not buy weapons in the store, most of the illegal weapons still retail at legal points of sale.

It is the first retail sale that is most often legal, since the seller follows the requirements of the law for documentation, control checks and accounting. And already the further sale of weapons is not registered and not controlled.

For reference:
In accordance with the modern weapons legislation of most civilized countries, it is necessary to register any transfer of weapons, which should allow to fully control the circulation of weapons. Any other transfer will be considered illegal.

For criminals in the United States, weapons illegally fall not on the second resale, but, as a rule, after several resales. The average age of weapons seized from criminals is more than 11 years.

The withdrawal of firearms from legal circulation occurs in different ways: theft or its imitation, private sales, where questions are not asked, to whom and for what, and so on.

There are few big players in the field of illegal weapons. Representatives do not make a living in this way, but simply earn extra money. The supply chain of illegal weapons used in the crimes is not related to the supply chain of heroin or cocaine and is much more similar to those that resemble the sales of cigarettes and alcohol to minors.

There have been several attempts to assess the scale of the market for illegal weapons in the United States, but they all failed. The main reason, as we said above, is not clear how to account for resale operations. But for the sake of a rough estimate, it was assumed that there is an average annual volume of arms sales, which is then used in a robbery or attack.

About 500,000 crimes are committed with the help of weapons in the USA every year. On average, the offender commits a robbery or assault with a specific “trunk” twice, provided that the previously obtained criminal data on the use of illegal weapons remain relevant. In this case, the total number of sales that would arouse the interest of the police is about 250,000 weapons per year.

In fact, no one knows the actual number of repeated use by a criminal of the same weapon after a single use. Therefore, the actual number of sales on the black market can be very different from the calculated theoretically.

At the same time, the turnover of legal weapons in the United States is about 20 million units per year.

So, how do gangsters, rapists, juvenile delinquents and other dangerous people get weapons?

Whether a weapon that was ultimately used in a crime was bought, borrowed, or stolen is difficult to say for sure. But the most likely assistants in the question of how to get illegal weapons are relatives and close people. Dragging a gun from an old father, a former military man or a hunter, or asking for help in acquiring is the “safest” and cheapest way.

Effective policing in the illicit arms market could help reduce the number of crimes.

From the Editor:

Which one of these things could be concluded? And such that even with the example of trafficking in illegal weapons in the US, we again return to our own sheep. Namely – no toughening of the law on weapons will not affect its criminal use. Because only respectable citizens legally acquire weapons, and use them for sports, for hunting, or for protecting property. And crime has always armed itself, is arming and will be arming on the “black market”.


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