State Gun Laws and the Movement of Crime Guns Between States

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State Gun Laws and the Movement of Crime Guns Between States

Category: Crime, Domestic Violence, Firearm Policies, Gun Markets|Journal: International Review of Law and Economics|Author: L Kahane|Year: 2020

Previous research by Kahane (2013) and Knight (2013) studied the relationship between differential state gun laws and the movement of crime guns between states using ATF gun tracing data for 2009. The basic result from these earlier studies is that crime guns tended to flow out of weak-law states and into strict-law states. This paper builds on these earlier studies by employing previously unavailable ATF data on crime gun recoveries for multiple years and with information on the ‘time to crime’ aspects of gun recovery. Furthermore, a larger scope of state gun laws is considered. Using the gravity model of trade to model crime gun flows, the empirical results find robust results for five state gun laws that are negatively related to interstate crime gun exports: state laws requiring inspections of federally licensed dealers, required permits or licenses for gun purchases, prohibiting individuals with domestic violence-related restraining orders from possessing guns, required reporting of lost or stolen firearms by gun owners, and laws granting local authorities with discretion in deciding whether to grant a concealed carry permit. Furthermore, estimated coefficients for various state gun laws are significantly larger (in absolute terms) when short time to crime gun data are used in comparison to data for all crime gun flows (regardless of time to crime). Given a short time to crime aspect is considered by law enforcement as a key indicator of illegal gun trafficking, previous research by Kahane (2013) and Knight (2013) likely underestimated the relationship between state gun laws and the movement of crime guns between states.

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