A study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, published Friday in the Preventative Medicine journal, helps shed some light on the relationship between criminals and their guns.
In fall 2013, researchers conducted anonymous, face-to-face interviews with nearly 100 Cook County Jail detainees convicted or suspected of gun crimes. According to the study, few got their guns from the Internet, gun shows or licensed stores, citing fears of being robbed by a stranger or caught in a sting operation. Instead, over two-thirds obtained firearms from family, fellow gang members or associates. Most were handguns; very few had possessed so-called “assault weapons.”
Despite federal law, most owned guns within six months of being jailed, claiming fear of being unable to defend themselves outweighed fear of getting caught. Perhaps because they usually changed guns about once a year—citing potential liability of “dirty” guns—most reportedly didn’t practice with the guns or know much about their operation.