New research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh bolsters a claim long made by gun rights advocates that lawful gun owners rarely commit crimes.
In 2008, there were 893 firearms recovered from crime scenes in Pittsburgh. Of those cases, 79 percent of them involved a suspect illegally carrying a firearm. Only 18 percent of the gun crimes involved legal gun owners.
The University of Pittsburgh joined forces with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to analyze the available gun crime data from 2008. Here's a visual representation:
Epidemiologist Anthony Fabio of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health told the Washington Post he wanted to figure out how guns that started out as “legal guns” ended up in criminal hands. The Post went with the straightforward headline: "New evidence confirms what gun rights advocates have said for a long time about crime."
He reportedly found that 30 percent of guns recovered at Pittsburgh crime scenes in 2008 were stolen. However, in many cases, it wasn't clear how the weapons went from legal to illegal guns.
More on the research from the Washington Post:
The top-line finding of the study — that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes aren't committed by lawful gun owners — reinforces a common refrain among gun rights advocacy groups. They argue that since criminals don't follow laws, new regulations on gun ownership would only serve to burden lawful owners while doing little to combat crime.
But Fabio's research suggests that this strict dichotomy between "good guys" and "bad guys" isn't necessarily helpful for figuring out how to keep "good" guns — those purchased legally — from getting into "bad" hands. And there may be modest, non-burdensome ways to help keep guns in the hands of the good guys.
Some of the suggestions put forth by the Post are laws requiring gun owners to report stolen firearms and targeting gun dealers that sell a disproportionate amount of guns used in crimes.
Citing a 2000 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Washing Post reported just "1 percent of dealers accounted for nearly 6 in 10 crime gun traces" in 1998.
Read the entire report here.