Curtailing the demand for guns is more effective against gun-related crimes than are restrictions on their sale, say new studies in the journal Criminology & Public Policy. With nearly 300 million firearms, including 100 million handguns, already in individual hands in the U.S., obtaining a gun through used or illegal gun markets is not difficult, says criminologist Charles Wellford of the University of Maryland. “Current research suggests that demand-side enforcement done carefully and with community support is the best approach to reducing gun violence,” Wellford says.
In the journal, Prof. Jens Ludwig of Georgetown University argues that efforts to reduce the demand for guns, such as increasing the likelihood that illegal gun carriers will be caught and prosecuted, are more effective agaisnt gun violence than are suply-side interventions that try to interrupt the supply of handguns to criminals. The volume includes studies of disrupting illegal fireams markets in Boston and a Maryland law limiting handgun buyers to one purchase a month from licensed dealers. That statute appears to have resulted in a modest reduction in the flow of guns to criminals in Maryland and Washington, D.C., says criminologist Christoper Koper of the University of Pennsylvania. The special issue on gun violence is available by subscription at www.criminologyandpublicpolicy.com; journalists may get a PDF of the studies by messaging firstname.lastname@example.org and asking in the subject box Please Send Gun Issue PDFs.