The main point of the article is that big-time gun trafficking accounts for a tiny percentage of guns that end up in the wrong hands. Although Kleck mentions straw purchasing and the fact that some criminals buy guns legally before they become disqualified, he's clearly saying that theft is the number one source of gun flow into the criminal world.The best available study, by researchers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, indicates that criminals obtain guns from a wide variety of largely interchangeable low-volume sources. Criminals usually get their guns in one of three ways: as a byproduct of thefts, primarily residential burglaries; by buying guns one at a time from friends and relatives who neither regularly sell guns nor act as "straw purchasers" (legally qualified buyers who purchase guns for those prohibited from doing so); or, if they have no criminal convictions, by lawfully buying guns from licensed dealers.
As my colleague Kevin Wang and I found by examining federal crime data, the overall volume of gun theft alone is huge—at least 400,000 to 600,000 guns are stolen each year in the U.S. This is easily enough to resupply the entire criminal population with guns even if they were completely disarmed at the start of each year.
Do you believe that? Do you find his half-a-million stolen guns a year credible?
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.