Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

First study of gun shows finds California laws reduce illegal gun purchases

12.06.2007
More undocumented, private-party gun sales and illegal 'straw' purchases found outside of California, study shows

The potential for gun shows to serve as places where criminals obtain firearms can be curbed through increased regulation without adversely affecting attendance or business, according to a pioneering study published this week in Injury Prevention, an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals.

Embargoed paper along with the accompanying editorial are available at http://press.psprings.co.uk/ip/june/150_ip16212.pdf and http://press.psprings.co.uk/ip/june/145_ip16170.pdf.

The study, based on field observations made by Garen J. Wintemute, director of UC Davis’ Violence Prevention Research Program, also found that undocumented gun sales between private parties and illegal “straw purchases” in which a person with a clean record buys a weapon for someone with a criminal record were much more common at gun shows in states with little regulation.

The take-home message of the study, which compared gun shows in California, where they are tightly regulated, with gun shows in states with little government oversight, is that “regulation works,” Wintemute said.

Wintemute, a 55-year-old professor of emergency medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine, is a leading researcher in the field of injury epidemiology and the prevention of firearm violence. Selected in 1997 by Time magazine as one of 15 international “heroes of medicine,” Wintemute is the author of over 50 published scientific articles on gun violence and prevention.

Stephen P. Teret, director of the Center for Law and the Public’s Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, said Wintemute’s gun show study was “enormously important” because it marked the first time anyone had systematically recorded both questionable and blatantly illegal transactions at gun shows.

While gun shows — commonly held at convention centers or county fairgrounds — have long been suspected as a venue where criminals can obtain firearms, “before this no one to my knowledge has actually gone to these shows and observed what guns were being sold and to whom, or checked whether laws were being adhered to,” said Teret, a leading expert in addressing gun violence as a public health problem.

“It’s real shoe-leather epidemiology,” added Teret, who has co-authored papers with Wintemute on the public health impacts of gun violence. “Now for the first time the public policy discussion on gun shows can be based on data rather than speculation.”

The study, titled “Gun shows across a multistate American gun market: observational evidence of the effects of regulatory policies,” was funded by the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation and the Broad Foundation of Los Angeles and was approved by the UC Davis Institutional Review Board. It is based on observations Wintemute made while visiting 28 gun shows — eight each in California and Nevada, six in Arizona, four in Texas and two in Florida — between April 2005 and March 2006. California was chosen because it tightly regulates gun shows — requiring for example that gun show promoters be licensed — while the other four states don’t regulate gun shows at all. The four states were chosen because they are the leading sources of guns used in crimes in California.

Wintemute’s first challenge was to find some way to eavesdrop on gun transactions without attracting notice. At first he tried recording his observations by speaking into a hidden tape recorder that he carried with him, but the quality of the recordings were poor.

“Then I realized that everybody (at the gun shows) was using cell phones,” he recalled in a recent interview.

Wintemute decided to do likewise. He recorded his observations by calling up his voice mail, the capacity of which he had expanded for the study. The voice mail messages were then transcribed by members of Wintemute’s staff. He made visual recordings of the gun shows by taking pictures with a hidden camera.

Wintemute expected to find reduced attendance and commercial activity at gun shows in California due to the more restrictive regulatory climate. Instead, while shows in the other states were larger, “the number of attendees per gun vendor was higher in California,” Wintemute wrote in the report.

“Gun shows can be regulated so as to diminish their importance as sources of crime guns without greatly diminishing attendance or commercial activity,” the report said.

Another surprise was the straw purchases. Wintemute thought they would be uncommon no matter the location of the gun show because federal law bans straw purchases nationwide. Instead, he reported seeing “24 definite and three probable straw purchases” in the four comparison states, and “one straw purchase and one probable straw purchase” in California.

Some were fairly blatant. On three occasions, all outside California, he observed straw purchasers buying multiple guns in a single transaction. He even saw a licensed retailer at a gun show in Florida processing multiple straw purchases simultaneously.

Also in Florida, Wintemute saw a woman in her twenties buying a rifle with a bayonet and 30-round magazine from a licensed retailer while her male partner, who had selected the firearm, stood 15 feet away while she completed the paperwork. As the background check was being run on her, the man talked with the retailer about the rifle and then bought ammunition for it once the background check had been completed.

Straw purchases, particularly in the comparison states, were “out in the open, with no evidence that the buyer or seller felt the need to hide their conduct,” Wintemute said. “So I infer from that that there’s no substantial effort to enforce [the federal law banning straw purchases] at gun shows.”

As he anticipated, the sale of assault weapons and undocumented private party gun transactions were far less common at gun shows in California than at gun shows in the other states.

Private party sales that do not require the buyer to undergo a background check have long been suspected as a way for criminals to get guns. In the comparison states, such sales are not regulated. In California, private party sales can take place, but they must be processed by a licensed retailer, the buyer must submit to a background check, and the transaction is documented.

Wintemute witnessed no private party gun sales between attendees at shows in California and just two involving an apparently unlicensed gun vendor. In contrast, the number of private party sales at shows in the four other states “appeared about equal in number to sales involving licensed retailers.”

Private party sales, at least the ones observed by Wintemute, tended to be brief, “don’t ask, don’t tell” transactions. “They generally required less than five minutes to complete and sometimes less than one minute,” Wintemute wrote in the report. “In only one sale between attendees was identification or verification of in-state residence requested. It was uncommon in sales involving an unlicensed vendor.”

Some of the private party sales Wintemute saw appeared to involve firearms likely to end up in criminal hands. At a gun show in Phoenix in September 2005, for example, he witnessed four young men buying eight handguns over the course of a day — including two Glock pistols from an unlicensed vendor who did not request any identification or verify in-state residence status. As the young men left the show, Wintemute overheard a gang unit officer from the Phoenix police department who was present at the gun show comment: “They’ll just take ‘em out on the street and sell ‘em.”

Among the many other observations included in Wintemute’s report: Only 30 percent of gun vendors, both at shows in California and in the other states, were identifiable as licensed retailers; armed attendees were five times as common in the comparison states; and at one show in Nevada, one third of the cars in the parking lot had California plates — an indication, Wintemute said, that California residents travel to out-of-state gun shows to obtain firearms.”.

Wintemute now plans to conduct “parallel studies” in other regions of the country that compare gun shows in more regulated states to gun shows in less regulated states. Eventually, he hopes to train others to become observers at gun shows — and possibly to go one step further than he did and notify local police when they witness an illegal transaction.

“I did not make phone calls to law enforcement because this was a research project,” Wintemute said. “If enough people were to start doing that, then the bad guys at gun shows might start worrying.”

Carole Gan | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers create artificial materials atom-by-atom

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers show p300 protein may suppress leukemia in MDS patients

28.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>