New Study: Enforcing Existing Laws Would Have ‘Immediate and Substantial Impact on Gun Crime’

Gun owners have been saying it for decades: politicians should focus on enforcing existing gun laws rather than creating new ones. (Photo: City of Plantation Florida Facebook)

A new study from researchers at Duke and the University of Chicago suggests that stricter enforcement of current gun laws would have an “immediate and substantial impact on gun crime” because most criminals obtain their firearms illegally and within six months of committing a crime.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Urban Health, used data from a survey of 221 inmates in Chicago to investigate how and when criminals obtain firearms. While current research has proven that firearms take many years to move from the legal to illegal markets, Harold A. Pollack and his colleagues wanted to know how much time elapses within the “last link”—the time between a person obtaining a firearm and committing a crime with it.

Based on responses obtained in the Chicago Inmate Survey, the researches concluded that 68 percent had obtained their “primary gun” (the gun they had in their possession at the time of their arrest) less than six months prior. In addition, of the 150 respondents who were armed at the time of their arrest, 42 percent had not been armed at all six months earlier.

Cook, P.J., Pollack, H.A. & White, K. J Urban Health (2019).

Furthermore, relatively few active criminals bought their firearms from gun stores but rather obtained guns from their social connections or off-the-books transactions that constitute the underground gun market

“Only 1% of all the guns were acquired at a store, and none of the respondents mentioned a gun show or the Internet as a source,” the study notes.

Researchers thus concluded that policymakers and law enforcement should focus on enforcing current gun laws that already prohibit these transactions from taking place. If, hypothetically speaking, all of these transactions had been intercepted within the last six months, the effect on gun-related crime would have been massive.

“The current findings suggest that more effective enforcement of existing regulations could have an immediate and substantial effect on gun crime,” researchers conclude.

SEE ALSO: Who Is Responsible for Gun Crime?

The study also notes in its final paragraph how these findings cut against the contention that more guns in civilian hands leads to a higher availability of firearms to criminals and, in turn, more crime.

“It is not the stock but the flow of guns that arms criminals, since criminal use tends to follow transactions within a few weeks or months,” researchers say. “It is true that the current stock of guns in private hands is the source for a large percentage of transactions in the underground gun market (the main exception being straw purchases of new guns from dealers), but those transactions, because they are illegal, often have high transactions costs.”

Researchers admit that their study is limited to one jurisdiction (Chicago) and utilizes a sample that, while consisting of gun-involved offenders, is not necessarily representative of the adult population of Chicago offenders who commit gun assault, murder, and robbery.

SEE ALSO: UK Gun Ban Not Working, Gun Crime is on the Rise

But they nonetheless offer their findings as a real solution to the problem of gun-related violence in the United States. If, as law-abiding gun owners have been suggesting for decades, politicians would focus on enforcing existing gun laws rather than imposing greater restrictions on Second Amendment rights, a larger percentage of criminals would not be able to obtain the firearms with which they commit crimes. While these individuals might nonetheless commit violent actions, at least anti-gun politicians would not be able to use criminal activity as a smokescreen for disarming American citizens.

“If the task is finding every gun, that feels hopeless,” Pollack told UChicago News. “But if you focus on hindering or interfering with the transaction of guns, that doesn’t seem quite as hopeless.”

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over six years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Tyler. Got a hot tip? Send him an email at

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Matthew Hurt December 20, 2019, 9:59 am

    The Constitution is the highest law in the land. It overrides and supersedes any law the Socialist Politicians in Virginia create.

    As a Soldier including the National Guard it is your duty to uphold the Constitution. It is not your duty to blindly follow illegal orders.


  • Jay December 20, 2019, 6:18 am

    There isn’t anything “new” about his study. The NRA and other pro 2A groups have been beating that drum for many years. They have demonstrated repeatedly how heinous crimes were committed by felons turned back out on the streets with little more than a rap on the wrist, if that, when full permissible sentences for crimes already committed could easily have kept them locked up for decades and sometimes more.

    A lot of gun-control laws have been added since then and of course, They have done nothing to impact crime or gun violence. But then, they aren’t meant to.

  • ray July 6, 2019, 3:22 pm

    The second amendment is about keeping the Government in check not about hunting or sport shooting!
    Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
    – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 178

    “As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.”
    – Tench Coxe, Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789

    We as a people become complacent we think that could never happen but it does over and over around the world and through out history. That is why the founders put that right in the constitution. Every man is born with that right only our constitution guarantees it!

  • roccobro July 5, 2019, 5:04 pm

    Enforcing laws will reduce crime???? Holey shit where has the logic gone that this is NEWS???

  • Micjael J July 5, 2019, 1:18 pm

    What law stops an actual crime? NONE.

    • roccobro July 5, 2019, 5:05 pm

      If every person was actually an UPSTANDING CITIZEN, every law would stop the crime it was written for.

  • Leonard July 5, 2019, 10:40 am

    We rarely use the guns we buy for a crime. Somebody who has a stolen gun is more the likely suspect. When we look at “Gun Crime” we are fooling nobody. The criminal is responsible for any crime he commits, and for killing, he does not need a gun.
    Guns do cut down on crime if used wisely by their owners. They stop the crime because the police were not there, and somebody had to take action. We have the Right to self-defense, and even if it was not written in the Constitution, it still a God-Given Right.
    Many wish we didn’t have this Right. They were born in a place that never appreciated how violent this world could get. They may have been in the military or police, but they don’t expect problems at home or their back yard. They feel this is right for them, and don’t want you to have the same choice, because you are wrong, and they are always right.
    I doubt any of these idiots could fend for themselves, should the need arise. They would not let me fend for myself either, and that’s criminal.
    We have more than enough laws and regulations. Whenever there’s a crime, there should be adequate punishment, but the criminals eventually get out and return to crime. Somebody needs to lock the revolving door.
    I may be the only one here who believes that an armed society is a polite society, but it is true. It would end mass shootings, though it might not help in an ambush. Still, it is better to try than to die without trying.

  • Don Richardson July 5, 2019, 10:22 am

    It has been known since the ancient Greeks that politicians who are elected will create solutions which sound good but don’t fix the problem so that they can campaign on the same thing each election and just say “We need to do more of it.” In this case, they have laws which could solve the problem but refuse to enforce them. That is common in practically every Democrat run city in the United States. A little crime, a few deaths, give the politicians the opportunity to claim once again that we must elect them as they are the only ones smart enough to fix the problem. Yet they simply ignore the problem, or make it worse, so they can campaign on the same story next election season.

    • RICK July 8, 2019, 1:18 pm

      Which is why we need term limits on ALL political offices.

  • perlcat July 5, 2019, 9:34 am

    They couldn’t possibly care less abut actually reducing gun crime. The reason Democrats want a slew of new restrictive laws that are also going to be largely unenforced among the actual group that commits crimes is that inconsistently enforced laws are extremely profitable for corrupt government officials. Pay the right person the right amount, they look the other way. Fairly enforced laws pay them nothing. They have been more than happy to flood the country with lawbreakers to tilt elections their way. The last thing they want is a study that shows that enforcing laws reduces crime. Any fool knows that. These are people who will happily throw away our freedom and turn our country into a third-world-style banana republic in order to make money.

  • Mark A Gutsmiedl July 5, 2019, 8:55 am

    Wow! They needed to do a study on this? You mean just creating the laws doesn’t stop the crime? You actually have to enforce them? Sorry if I made a mess with the dripping sarcasm. Any sane, semi intelligent person would know that you must enforce the laws you make for them to be effective. Any parent knows that simply seeing a curfew will not matter if you do not enforce it. And of course we all know that the laws are too strangle lawful firearm ownership. A very important question is, how do we get through to our youth, who are bombarded in schools and media, about the importance of firearm ownership before it is too late?

  • CS July 5, 2019, 8:54 am

    This study will fall to deaf ears, when it comes to politicians. Their only objective is to perpetuating their position, All this “gun laws” proposed by politicians are just marketing gimmicks to get votes, and this serves for both sides. One side panders to the ignorant that think more gun laws will stop crime and tragedy, while the other claims to be pro 2A, but in reality do nothing about it (hearing protecting act + control of both houses + president = nothing). Whenever you depend on politicians, I mean any, you will find me jaded. We are by ourselves and the only solution is educating the ignorant and replacing these career politicians with people like us, which is almost impossible. The political system suppress people like me and you. If you are not one of them, career politicians there is, you cannot make to Washington.

  • Andy Buckmichael July 5, 2019, 8:39 am

    To enforce the laws would mean that the useless cops would have to work and do their jobs. Not likely to happen.

    • Mikey R July 5, 2019, 2:45 pm

      Pretty stupid remark, Sparky. Next time you need a cop, call your ACLU rep.

  • Robert Lucas July 5, 2019, 7:51 am

    “Enforce the Exsisting Firearms Laws” should be the only mantra in this Republic!


    What are you afraid of? I will tell what I fear, the erosion of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights without due process in which the foundations of this country have existed upon for over two centuries. The re-interpretation, and the re-defining of these original documents is a perverted insult to the legal citizens of the United States. Many U.S. Families, including mine, since the inception of these documents have shed their blood to protect these foundations, and continue to do so in the present day. Our forefathers did not arm the American people for hunting, but rather to protect themselves from those who were doing the hunting, namely the tyrant King George. The second amendment is only to vouchsafe our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to ensure all the other rights given unto us by our Creator.
    The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution once again is found consistent with the lessons of the Bible they used as their bedrock for civil law. The people’s individual protection should always be a primary concern of government “of the people”. In a righteous country, self-government reigns by the constraint of Christian morals. The civil government that desires such a monopoly of force (i.e. they are the only ones with guns) is a threat to the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens, for that government ceases to be “of and for the people.”
    Anti-constitutionalist’s stand for nothing. The situation determines their support for an issue and their emotions rule, not reason and rationality.
    The self- proclaimed “social-justice warriors” hopes that no one has educated themselves on past extermination history that this globe has suffered time and time again, which proves their circle of insanity.
    Anti-Constitutionalist’s=Anti-Americans=Enemies of the United States…
    “The right of decent private United States citizens to personally possess, transport, and responsibly use arms without government interference is the ultimate freedom and the main pillar supporting all other liberties.”
    “The inalienable and fundamental right to keep and bear arms which is enumerated by (but predates) the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not about hunting, gun collecting, or target shooting. Its purpose is to ensure that every RESPONSIBLE American personally possesses the means to defend the Republic from all forms of tyranny, within and without. It is what permits the other nine Amendments in the Bill of Rights to be more than mere hollow phrases on a piece of paper. “Its free exercise is the antithesis of serfdom and THE ONLY MEANINGFUL FORM OF HOLOCAUST INSURANCE KNOWN TO MAN”.

    • KillsQuick July 9, 2019, 4:55 am

      Amen Brother finally someone who knows what he’s talking about and what the true 2nd Amendment Right was written into the Constitution for!!!! It’s time that the Career Politicians reign is halted for they are no longer serving the interests of the people but rather their own money making agendas!!!!! With so much obvious discontent and division among our citizenry it’s also obvious that presently we have a Congress and Senate no longer by the People or for the People but by and large for Themselves…Pass a Law and leave no doubt…elect them in for 4 and then their Out!!!

  • Mike July 5, 2019, 7:20 am

    Well written Lawrence , couldn’t have said it better myself.

    It’s all about control………Hell, they are set for life, just piss on us.

  • E.S. Manley July 5, 2019, 4:35 am

    BRAVO , couldn’t have said it better myself . Well said , my friend . I have been beating that same dead horse for years .
    After watching the current political situation and everything associated with it , that was a breath of fresh air .

  • Connie July 5, 2019, 3:24 am


  • Jaque July 5, 2019, 12:33 am

    Its time gun rights organizations stand tall and tell Mr and Mrs America and the Communist lawmakers the real purpose of the Second Amendment. Not in a threatening way mind you, but the facts of life. Its clear to me the left has every intention of imposing a Communist system to replace our Republican system, and to do so they must first disarm us, as the move to communism will not be voluntary. Gun owners thru their respective gun rights groups must make it clear to the Communists they understand the Declaration of Independence and the purpose of the Second Amendment, and that it aint for hunting or punching targets.

  • Sepp W July 4, 2019, 4:31 pm

    In the liberal dystopia there are no criminals, only crime. Liberals abhor the Constitution, individual rights, and freedoms. They think the government grants rights, not protect them. And to that end, in order to consolidate power, means disarming the citizenry up front and as quickly as possible. Right out of playbooks for tyrannical dictatorships or communism, take your choice.

    Liberals excel at getting the basic facts about firearms wrong again and again and it’s not a mistake. It is a premediated action to mislead Americans with outright lies, made-up facts, and half-truths.

  • Lawrence Greenberg July 3, 2019, 12:39 pm

    I will post here the same comment I have made literally hundreds of times before in response to an article like this. Gun control is not now, and has never been, about crime or criminals. It is about disarming the citizenry so they will not represent a threat to the government when the Left creates the dictatorship they have been working toward for more than half a century. The key word in the term “gun control” is not “gun” – it is “control.” The Left could not give a rat’s behind about crime or criminals. There are now more than 22,000 gun control laws at the federal, state, and local levels in this nation. Every conceivable aspect of firearm purchase, ownership, and use is covered at least a dozen times over. Yet the Left keeps trying to institute more laws. Does any honest person with a functioning brain think that another gun control law, or 10, or 100, or even 1,000 is going to make any difference, is going to stop even a single crime? By definition, criminals do not obey laws, and all of these laws represent a deterrent and obstacle only to legal firearm ownership. Every study ever made, every report every produced, including by the FBI, makes it very clear that the overwhelming majority of crimes committed with a firearm involved a firearm obtained illegally, so no law would have mattered or made any difference. So why do the politicians, especially the Leftists, keep crying out for more gun control? Because it is me and you they want disarmed, not the criminals. And all those existing laws, plus the new ones to come, will gradually make it impossible for law-abiding citizens, i.e., those who follow the law, to purchase, own, and use a firearm (there are various locations around the country where it is now virtually impossible for a law-abiding citizen to purchase and own a firearm, even just to keep at home). ‘Nuff said…

  • JonsOn July 2, 2019, 10:44 am

    This article wrongly assumes that the gun grabbers (democrats) want to curtail crime. They could give a rats ass about crime. They want legal gun owners disarmed period! They are the reason we have the 2nd amendment.

    • JOHN J Pellegrino July 5, 2019, 11:35 am

      JonsOn, You are exactly right, they (mostly the Democrats) don’t want existing laws to work, they want the citizens unarmed. They want a totally single party controlled Police State. They (the Democrats and others (exactly who else is a big ??) are behind all of the shootings like what happened in Britain seeking the same result of gun collection. There is a good video on youtube titled “A second American Civil War, who would win?” its a tactical evaluation. A book, that is a very different read but full of what is going on, is Behold a Pale horse by William Cooper, published in 1991 and it should have caused a colossal uproar. Amazon has it and it can be found online. This book I recommend and it will open your eyes. You can also read “The New Constitution for The New States of America” in this book. There is NO preamble beginning with We The People for this new Constitution. If they ever succeed in collecting our guns, its over.

  • Bo July 1, 2019, 7:27 pm

    No crap!!!! The trouble is,,, these liberal judges and lawyers will do what ever they can to kick these 2x looser animal thugs loose back into society!!!

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