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California Has A Gun Trafficking Problem

December 29, 2022

Gun violence is a growing problem in the United States. Active shooter incidents surged by over 50% in 2021 compared to the previous year, and the share of violent crimes involving firearms climbed by over 30%, according to the FBI. While the right to gun ownership is enshrined in the Constitution, keeping guns out of the wrong hands is a persistent challenge – and one that some states appear to be taking more seriously than others. (These are the firearm calibers used the most to commit crimes in the U.S.)

Several states, largely concentrated in the Northeast and along the West Coast, have relatively tight gun restrictions. These can include, but are not limited to, mandatory waiting periods, universal background checks, and restrictions on certain types of firearms and ammunition.

In most of the rest of the country, however, gun control laws are considerably more lax. The resulting patchwork of regulations has helped create a thriving black market for gun trafficking. Each year, thousands of firearms that were purchased in states with virtually no gun control laws end up in the hands of criminals in states with tight firearm restrictions.

According to 2021 data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 50.4% of traced guns in California were sold by an out-of-state retailer – the eighth largest share in the country. Firearms traced by the ATF typically have been used, or are suspected to have been used, to commit a crime.

Of all guns traced in California, 14.9% came from Arizona, the largest out-of-state source. Nevada and Texas accounted for the second and third largest shares, at 7.2% and 5.2% respectively.

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