A study by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, published recently in the journal Preventive Medicine, helps shed some light on the relationship between criminals and their guns. And the results aren’t kind to gun-banners who constantly call for closing the so-called “gun show loophole” and instituting so-called “universal” background checks.
In fall 2013, Philip J. Cook, Susan T. Parker and Harold A. Pollack 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 Internet sources, gun shows or licensed stores, citing fears of being robbed by a stranger or caught in a sting operation. Cook and colleagues also found that most of the criminals didn’t even steal their guns, and they seldom bought guns on the used market.
Instead, more than two-thirds obtained firearms from family, fellow gang members or associates. Additionally, most were handguns: Very few had possessed so-called “assault weapons”—also frequently targeted by gun-banners.
According to the report, despite federal law, most of those queried owned guns within six months of being jailed, claiming that fear of being unable to defend themselves outweighed fear of getting caught by police. 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.