US: Federal report on gun violence reveals shocking facts: Time between weapons bought and used for crime is decreasing

It also shows a rise in the usage of conversion devices, which enables a semiautomatic weapon to fire like a machine gun, and a rise in the number of so-called 'ghost guns,' or secretly manufactured weapons that are difficult to track down

FP Staff February 03, 2023 18:46:32 IST
US: Federal report on gun violence reveals shocking facts: Time between weapons bought and used for crime is decreasing

Representational Image. AFP

Washington: A comprehensive federal report on guns and crime released on Friday stirred the debate of gun violence in United States by revealing that the time between when a gun was purchased and when it was found at a crime scene is getting shorter.

This report is one of a kind in 20 years. It suggests that legally purchased firearms are being used in crimes across the nation more quickly.

It also shows a rise in the usage of conversion devices, which enables a semiautomatic weapon to fire like a machine gun, and a rise in the number of so-called “ghost guns,” or secretly manufactured weapons that are difficult to track down.

According to Director Steve Dettelbach, the distribution of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report’s statistics is intended to assist law enforcement and decision-makers in reducing gun violence.

According to the research, 54% of the weapons that police found at crime scenes in 2021 had been bought within three years, an increase of 10% from 2019.

The speedier turnaround could be a sign of illicit gun trafficking or a straw purchase, in which someone who is legally allowed to acquire a gun buys it in order to sell it to someone who isn’t allowed to own firearms.

According to the report, weapons purchased less than a year prior were a major factor in the surge.

The research, which is intended to aid law enforcement in combating the rising number of gun violence incidents, claims that during that period, the overall number of new guns in the United States increased dramatically as a result of record-breaking gun sales during the coronavirus epidemic.

Since their purchase, the majority of the weapons used in crimes have changed hands, according to the research.

Additionally, it was found that between 2017 and 2021, more than 1.07 million stolen firearm reports were made. 96% of those, or almost all, came from private individuals.

The survey also shows that the number of devices that turn lawful semi-automatic weapons into illegal fully automatic ones has increased by more than five times.

The ATF recovered 814 of those between 2012 and 2016, but throughout the five years covered by the report, that number increased to 5,414.

In a shooting spree that left six people dead and 12 injured in Sacramento last April, which police described as a gunfight between rival gangs, a conversion device was utilised.

The report also charts the rise of “ghost guns,” privately manufactured weapons without serial numbers that have started showing up at crime scenes around the country more frequently.

In 2021, more than quadruple the amount from the previous year, the ATF traced more than 19,000 privately produced weapons. Although they normally haven’t produced as much information as typical firearms, that increase is partly
due to the agency pushing authorities to send it the weapons so they can be tracked. It is true that the guns have distinctive ballistics and other features that can be helpful to investigators.

The report was released after Attorney General Merrick Garland requested that the ATF conduct the first thorough investigation into illegal gun trafficking in more than 20 years.

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