The simultaneous or rapid purchase of multiple guns, which is referred to as a multiple sale, is a potential indicator of gun trafficking. This study examines the role of multiple sales in supplying criminals, using longitudinal analysis of the sale and subsequent police recovery of guns sold in Maryland during the early to mid-1990s. Guns sold in multiple sales accounted for 25% of guns later recovered and had an elevated risk of recovery outside of Maryland, particularly in neighboring Washington, D.C., where handguns are banned.
Federal regulations requiring gun dealers to report multiple sales are prudent, and law enforcement should emphasize these sales in gun trafficking investigations. A 1996 Maryland law restricting handgun buyers to one purchase per month may have produced modest reductions in the flow of guns to criminals in Maryland and particularly in Washington, D.C.