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DOJ report shows just how few legally purchased guns are used to commit crimes

This might hurt the gun control narrative

Emily Kask/AFP/Getty Images

A Department of Justice report shows that only seven percent of nearly 300,000 state and federal prisoners who possessed a firearm during their crime purchased the gun from a licensed firearm dealer.

The report estimates that 287,400 prisoners had a gun on them when they committed the crime for which they are imprisoned, and a majority of those prisoners either stole the gun, found it at the scene of the crime, or bought it off the street or from the underground market, according to the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates.

About 13 percent of state and federal prisoners surveyed used a gun during their crime, and of those prisoners, only 1.3 percent obtained it from a retail source.

The survey also revealed that only 0.8 percent of prisoners who possessed a gun during their offense got the firearm from a gun show, a statistic which shows that "gun show loopholes" often decried by gun control advocates are not contributing significantly to crime.

"[The survey has] consistently show that there is no such thing as criminals exploiting a 'gun show loophole' to arm themselves for their crimes," said Lawrence G. Keane, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, according to Guns.com. "Perhaps lawmakers should spend less time on these 'solutions in search of a problem' and more time on fixing the background check system, or on any of the issues that voters actually rank as a priority."

Here's a breakdown of the numbers showing where state and federal prisoners who possessed a firearm during the offense for which they are serving time got their guns:

  • 10.1 percent obtained the gun by purchase or trade from a retail source. 7.5 percent from a gun store, 1.6 percent from a pawn shop, 0.4 percent from a flea market, and 0.8 percent from a gun show.
  • 25.3 percent got the gun by purchasing, renting or borrowing it from a family friend, or receiving it as a gift.
  • 43.2 percent obtained the firearm off the street or from an underground market source

The fact that about 90 percent of firearms possessed by prisoners during the commission of crimes were not purchased or traded at legal retail sources could be used to inform the debate over gun control efforts, which often target legal gun owners and purchasers by restricting the availability of guns from legal sources or by attempting to outlaw possession of certain types of guns.

Democrats quickly introduced gun control legislation after taking control of the House, submitting a bill that would require universal background checks for gun sales.

One last thing…
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