Disproportionate sales of crime guns among licensed handgun retailers in the United States: a case control study

Publication Date: October 2009

Publisher: Injury Prevention

Author(s): Garen J. Wintemute

Research Area: Law and ethics; Social conditions

Keywords: crime; violence ; firearms

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This study determines risk factors among licensed firearm retailers for disproportionate sales of handguns that are later subjected to ownership tracing, generally after use in crime. It is based on data obtained from 573 gun retailers in California that sold over 50 handguns annually during the period of 1998–2003. Follow-up site visits were also conducted in 2004.

It found that retailers that had larger sales volumes and sold inexpensive handguns more often had a higher percentage of sales denied because the prospective purchasers were prohibited from owning firearms. Such retailers were more likely to be in an urban area, in or near a city with a policy of tracing all recovered crime guns. Such retailers were linked to disproportionate sales of handguns that are later used in crime.