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Illegal Weapons Explained

Illegal Weapons Explained

Classifications of illegal firearms in the United States are often confused because of the terminology associated.  When one hears the word "illegal" they automatically assume a broad interpretation that refers to anything against the law.
 
 
An illegal drug for instance is concrete. Possession or distribution of cocaine or heroine is unlawful under any circumstance.  Illegal guns are not this simple.  Most firearms purchased in the United States are legal, but can take on an illegal form through unlawful secondary selling, use, or distribution. For instance, if an individual purchases a weapon legally, then conceals or fires it without a proper permit, the gun becomes illegal.  
 
 
The confusion over the definition of "illegal firearms" also exists because of the varying state laws in the U.S. With over twenty thousand gun laws in place, the formation or distribution of illegal guns is inevitable. Due to the variation and ambiguity present in state law a gun can seemingly switch from legal to illegal based on location or use.
 
 
A firearm can be considered legal in one state, region, or even jurisdiction, but can be highly illegal in another.  Regulating and creating statistics for illegal guns and illegal firearms transactions is nearly impossible because of all the contrasting legal guidelines. For example, a registered handgun bought legally in Buffalo, NY is transported via car to New York City.
 
 
The handgun, although unloaded,  will be considered illegal as soon as it crosses into the city's limits.  The physical gun is not altered, nothing has changed, except for the governing laws of New York City. This is just one example of thousands, in which legitimate purchases, can instantly turn into illegal firearms.  
 
 
Regulation of illegal guns is so difficult in the United States because firearms are commonly exchanged through a private transaction between a dealer and seller. Forty percent of all gun transactions in America take place outside of a retail market.
 
 
The Brady Laws which were federally instituted in 1994 were meant to curb the sale of illegal guns. The Brady Bill made background checks on all purchasers mandatory as well as instituted a minimum 3 day waiting period on all transactions. Thought to be a monumental passing, the Brady Bill has been rendered somewhat ineffective due to the vast loopholes present.
 
 
Gun shows, which are a common market for gun transactions do not require background checks on individuals because they are constituted as a "private transaction" between buyer and seller. The buyer is essentially bargaining a price of a firearm with a seller who is offering up his own private collection for purchase.
 
 
Although these sales are considered legal, they greatly perpetuate illegal firearms transactions. An ex-convict for instance, can purchase a handgun through a private transaction without a background check or permit at purchase. Although legal in the bubble of the gun show, when that individual leaves the premise, he will be carrying an illegal weapon.  Federal law states that firearms cannot be sold to ex-convicts, drug addicts, minors, those who are mentally unstable, fugitives etc.
 
 
Although illegal guns are often conceived through ignorance of state laws, there are many illegal firearms that take on a more dangerous form.  Illegal firearms are most commonly distributed through alterations made by the seller that do not coincide with federal or state laws.
 
 
Violations includes-altering the gun's physical appearance or firing rate, scraping off the serial numbers making the gun impossible to trace, or by tampering with any features present on the firearm.  Illegal firearms such as high-powered assault rifles and sniper rifles are also sold in America through loopholes that require insignificant alterations made for each weapon.  
  
The most critical issue pertaining to illegal guns in the United States revolves around transportation, turnover, and subsequent use to commit a violent crime. Statistics associated with illegal guns and violent crimes are startling-
 
 
The ATF reports that 85.9% of traced guns used in crime in New York City came from outside the state-majority of illegal guns came from the South where loose gun laws are present    
59% of all guns used by juveniles were imported from another country and considered to be "junk guns."
 
 
Only 1 percent of gun dealers account for almost 60 percent of crime guns recovered by police and later traced.
 
 
Trafficking in firearms at gun shows and flea markets, where background checks are not required for every sale, accounted for 25,862 guns from 2003-2005.
 
 
Many guns are recovered in crime shortly after their first retail purchase. Thirty-four (34) percent of crime guns recovered in 1999 had been purchased new at a gun dealer within the past 3 years.

Overview On Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Overview On Mayors Against Illegal Guns

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a coalition of, as the title would suggest, mayors from various American cities who have banded together in order to take action against the problem of illegal guns, be it through implementing new gun laws in their own jurisdictions, or through whatever other means they can. As they say on their website, “The issue of illegal guns is not conservative or liberal; it is an issue of law and order — and life or death.”
The prevailing opinion of this coalition is that illegal guns are a major problem, not because guns are inherently dangerous, but because the presence of guns in the hands of individuals who cannot legally hold them is very dangerous. The coalition’s primary aim is not in restricting guns, but is instead in combating crime via new gun laws and enforcement procedures.
Over 500 mayors from across America have signed a statement of principles, attaching them to the coalition, including prominent members Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston.
This statement of principles is not necessarily a statement of action, but is instead simple a list of the basic ideals that the coalition holds, with which the signing mayor agrees; no mayor is committing to act in certain specific ways or to implement certain specific new gun laws, but each is committing to principles such as punishing to the maximum effect those criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns, or targeting and holding accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers (according to the website). 
The group was founded in 2006 by an initial group of 15 mayors after a meeting at Gracie Mansion in New York City. Now, the group has members in over 40 states, and is actively involved in attempting to make the public more aware of the problem of illegal guns. They offer up news on the subject, as well as information on new gun laws in legislation, and state and local initiatives that might be important to interested parties. They also offer purely practical information about what to do if your gun is lost or stolen. 
In 2008, the organization released a report titled The Movement of Illegal Guns in America: The Link between Gun Laws and Interstate Trafficking. The report came to the conclusion that those states with the weakest  laws concerning gun regulation were also the most likely to be the source of illegal guns in other states. In other words, the number of illegal guns in America is greatly heightened by the prevalence of weak gun laws in some states, while strong gun laws exist in others.
A gun can be purchased in one state and simply transported to another, illegally, but with little difficulty. Their response to this would likely be to suggest new gun laws to increase the measures for controlling guns, but the group does not come out with overarching policies to which all its members adhere.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is notable for its bi-partisan membership, and also for all it has accomplished in its fight to crack down on illegal guns, from new gun laws to simply increasing public awareness. It has actually even succeeded in getting Wal-Mart, the largest seller of firearms in the nation, to adopt the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership.
This Partnership is a ten point code designed to prevent the spread of illegal firearms. The partnership includes provisions such as one for the required videotaping of the point of sale for all firearms transactions, and one for denial of all sales without a successfully returned background check.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns stands out as one of the foremost efforts to eliminate illegal guns in America today. Their work should be lauded, both for its goodness, and for its ability to transcend party lines. 

What You Should Know About Minors and Illegal Guns

What You Should Know About Minors and Illegal Guns

The largest portion of gun deaths for young people and juveniles from ages 15-19 resulted from intentional homicides. Knowing this is startling, not least because the perpetrators were likely just as old as the victims.
Gun possession for juveniles is obviously illegal, as one must be at least 21 to obtain a gun in most, if not all, states. For juveniles age 15, gun possession is absolutely illegal, and likely can only arise thanks to the youth’s association either with those who can obtain a gun, and then give it to the youth without reservations, or because they know other youths who can help them to obtain a gun. The gun deaths caused by these illegally held weapons could likely be brought down, if only there were a way to ensure that minors were not able to access illegal guns as easily.
The Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative of the late 1990’s was an attempt to do just this by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It found such startling information as the fact that one out of 10 guns recovered after use in a crime by the police actually came from someone 17 or younger. The guns were illegally in the possession of these individuals, most of the time, but they were likely obtained legally, somehow, or stolen.
The unfortunate element of so many teen-caused gun deaths is that the teens in possession of the gun were likely to obtain a gun, if they truly wanted it. There are so many ways for any given individual to obtain a gun, even under age, including stealing it from someone else whom the minor knows has a gun. Sometimes, minors will find guns while breaking into houses without having meant to look for them, and will simply take them, often leading to unfortunate gun deaths.
The problem for determining exactly how much interaction there is between juveniles and guns is the classic problem of tracking illegal guns, in general: there’s no real way to do it, unless the individual is caught while in possession of the gun.
Juveniles are often not caught until they’ve already caused one or more gun deaths with their illegally owned weapons, and even then many get away. It is the quintessential flaw of gang violence involving minors; it occurs, but little can be done without catching the gang members and making sure that the they are no longer in possession of guns illegally.
This is demonstrated aptly by statistics like those gathered by the San Diego Association of Governments, which sought information about crime from law enforcement agencies all across America. Their report cited that in 2005, 15% of all arrests were of juveniles, but at the same time, one in three weapons offense arrests were for juveniles.
These statistics are mildly skewed, as individuals are recorded for the worst crime they committed; for instance, a juvenile who caused a gun death would be charged with manslaughter or homicide, as appropriate, instead of gun possession. But the fact remains that if minors want to arm themselves with guns, they find it all too easy to do so.

Guide to Origins of Illegal Firearms

Guide to Origins of Illegal Firearms

The origins of the problem of illegal firearms in America go back to, first and foremost, the 2nd Amendment. The 2nd Amendment is one of the most contentious amendments in the Constitution, Bill of Rights and all, if for no other reason than all gun control laws must stand opposed to it to some extent.
The text of the Amendment reads: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This Amendment was partly an attempt to prevent future treatment, the likes of which the American people had suffered during British rule, as rifles held by Americans were deemed illegal firearms and could be seized at the British troops’ leisure.
The Amendment was, at least in part, an attempt to prevent such blatant violations of freedom in the future. Out of the phrasing of the Amendment, of course, there also came a focus on defending the country, providing for the security of America through the ability to create a militia in times of need.
The 2nd Amendment was debated at the time, and through the ages, but the first time gun control laws were deemed necessary was in 1934, with the National Firearms Act. This law was, in fact, the first that truly made the idea of illegal firearms possible. This was the first of the twentieth century’s gun control laws. It put a $200 tax (which is equivalent to $2,525 today) on every firearm for all gun sales and gun manufacturers.
Furthermore, buyers were required to submit paperwork to the Treasury Department. Obviously, then, with such restrictions on firearms put into effect, it was only a matter of time before individuals sought illegal firearms, which did not need to be obtained via the arduous process set out in the gun control laws.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 is still one of the most prominent gun control laws in America, and it sets out some of the most important federal provisions preventing certain individuals from obtaining firearms legally.
This Act is further supported by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1994, which enforced the same sets of prohibitions. With every one of these attempts to place greater restrictions upon firearms, the problem of illegal firearms grew worse.
The people who were being prohibited from obtaining firearms legally were exactly the people who would have no second thoughts about obtaining illegal firearms. Thus, as restrictions sprang up, attempting to make it harder for firearms to be sold in general, illegal firearms grew in number across the country.
It certainly was not a help in the attempt to eliminate illegal firearms that gun control laws, concerning anything other than certain common-sense prohibitions about those who were able to legally purchase firearms, were in fact state laws, and not federal laws.
This meant that gun control laws were by no means uniform across America, and furthermore, previously legal firearms could become illegal firearms simply by crossing the state boundary, as not all states recognize permits given by other states.
The growth of illegal firearms seems correlated to the rise of gun control laws in America, though there are obviously other factors, such as increased population centers and improving technologies in manufacturing. But the main point remains that the problems of illegal firearms today seem to stem from the gun control laws of yesterday.

Illegal Guns Overview

Illegal Guns Overview

A great deal of gun violence in America, outside of suicides,
is perpetrated using illegal guns. Regardless of how anyone feels on the issue
of gun rights, illegal guns are undeniably criminal, and a major problem facing
America today. There are many constituent issues that help explain how and why
illegal guns are such a problem; read on to find out how these issues add up to
create one of America’s most important challenges.

Understanding The Illegal Guns Background

Understanding The Illegal Guns Background

Ironically, the prevalence of illegal guns in America is, in a way, due to attempts to decrease the number of illegal guns in the market. Before American government had put into effect restrictions on purchasing guns and selling guns, most guns were unregistered and unmonitored, yes, but simultaneously of course, there could not have been illegal guns, as there was nothing preventing anyone from purchasing a gun. When the government attempted to regulate guns in an attempt to decrease crime, it inherently necessitated the creation of an illegal gun system, as criminals sought a way to continue to obtain weaponry while avoiding the American government. 

In today's world, the primary problem of illegal guns is that they are very difficult to find and deal with. Illegal guns are most often guns which have been stolen, or passed around from owner to owner until they reach the hands of someone who cannot legally possess a gun. Most illegal guns actually have, as their point of origin, a fully legal gun store, which made a fully legal sale. The idea of a black market on which illegal guns are bought and sold is something of an exaggeration, at least within America; the primary source of illegal guns used in crime here is actually the legal gun market.

The issue is made even more complex when one takes into account the fact that each state in America has slightly different laws concerning the regulation of guns. Illegal guns in one state are perfectly legal in another, and this leads to the overall problem of illegal guns in America, as guns may be purchased in one state and transported to another, illegally. According to a report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, called The Movement of Illegal Guns in America, those states with lax gun laws are strong sources for those who would purchase guns and then transport them to other parts of the country illegally. In other words, the illegal gun trade takes advantage of America's variability in gun laws in order to purchase its soon-to-be illegal guns in a perfectly legal fashion.

The majority of gun crimes committed are crimes in which a gun is never fired, but is simply used as a threat, but simultaneously, a large portion of those juveniles found carrying illegal guns claim that they require the weapons in order to protect themselves from opposing gangs and other threats. This makes the presence of illegal guns in American society even more problematic, as it is possible that some of these illegal guns are, in fact, kept as means of protection in urban environments, where going without a gun at all is much more dangerous than possessing an illegal gun. Crimes are obviously committed using illegal guns, but it is unclear how many illegal guns are obtained specifically for the purpose of committing crimes.

The problem of illegal guns is at the root of the gun control debates in America, as the vast majority of dangerous and criminal gun uses involve illegal guns. But considering that the line between legal guns and illegal guns is a bit more blurred than one might expect, thanks to most illegal guns' origins as perfectly legal guns, the issue becomes all the more complicated.

Illegal Guns Statistics Overview

Illegal Guns Statistics Overview

In America, there are an estimated 250-280 million firearms. Out of these, it is of course impossible to tell how many are illegal weapons, as the very nature of a weapon being illegal would preclude its registration to the current owner or wielder.
But it is still fairly clear with a cursory glance of some statistics that illegal weapons have made their ways into the hands of plenty of criminals. 86% of juveniles in correctional facilities are reported to have owned a gun at some point, all of which would have been illegal weapons for the juveniles to own. 65% of juvenile offenders tend to own three or more illegal weapons and firearms.
In Rochester, New York, there was even the reported statistic that 22% of all young males in the city, as opposed to just those who are juvenile offenders, have carried an illegal gun for some period of time. While these particular statistics are oriented around youth, it still remains fairly clear that illegal guns are very prevalent, for these young people to have such easy access to them.
According to gunfacts.info, there were approximately 100,000 people convicted of “unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle each year.” The point of this number is to prove that simply because something is licensed does not mean that unlicensed individuals will actually obey the regulations.
This is something of a logical fallacy, as the same rules do not necessarily apply to illegal weapons usage; but, according to all information, it would seem the analogy is apt, not least because unlicensed, illegal weapons will never be discovered unless the wielder is caught with the weapon.
Handguns are easily concealable, and as most illegal weapons are handguns, most illegal weapons will remain undiscovered. Furthermore, interestingly, gunfacts.info points out that criminals who may have committed a crime with a weapon do not actually need to obtain licenses or register their weapons, as this would be an act of self-incrimination, a ruling upheld in 1968 in the case of Haynes vs. the US.
Another study showed that five out of six gun-possessing felons did not purchase a handgun or otherwise get one through legal means, but instead procured an illegal weapon through the secondary market, or by theft.
The information of this study strongly supports the fact that handguns used by criminals are most often stolen or traded between each other, and therefore become nigh impossible to track in any meaningful fashion. All of these would be deemed illegal weapons.
According to a study conducted in 1997, which admittedly could be out of date but is one of the most recently conducted studies of this comprehensive nature , only 15% of firearms possessed by Federal inmates were obtained through a retail store. The largest portion of illegal weapons were given to the inmates by a family member or a friend, with the next largest portion having been given to the inmates by a drug dealer.
The bottom line of most of this information is quite clear: the firearms being used in crimes are overwhelmingly illegal weapons, and unfortunately, the government is unable to track illegal weapons because of their illegal, unregistered status.

All You Should Know About The Link with Gang Violence

All You Should Know About The Link with Gang Violence

At first glance, one might intuitively think that greater gun ownership would lead to a greater number of gun deaths. There are many who argue that the actual relationship between these two factors is actually the reverse; greater gun ownership leads to greater capacity for self-defense, and therefore fewer gun deaths. But before one can address the issue of whether gun ownership leads to more or fewer gun deaths, one must define the terms.
Gun ownership, as a term, is misleading; according to statistics from vpc.org, 10% of the adult population owns 77% of the total number of guns in America. Increasingly, a small group of people are coming to represent a greater and greater portion of total American gun ownership. This small group of people includes gang members and other criminals, those individuals who use the guns to perpetrate violent acts.
Gun deaths, as well, need to be defined. If one simply defines gun deaths as “deaths which are caused by the firing of a gun,” then gun deaths encompass any number of acts, which the primary concerns may not apply to. Gun deaths in this case, for instance, would also cover suicides committed by people using guns, and these suicides, in turn, account for 50% of gun deaths.
If one instead goes to the CDC website, and, using their criteria, narrows down the search options to look for all homicides caused by firearms, then one would find out that there were actually only 4.27 gun deaths per 100,000 in the year of 2006.
For violence-related gun deaths, the number rises to 9.93 gun deaths per 100,000, again in 2006. So the term gun deaths should likely relate primarily to violence or homicide related gun deaths, as any other definition is too broad.
There have been studies that do actually link greater gun ownership with greater rates of gun deaths per 100,000. Louisiana, for instance, has a household gun ownership percentage of 45.6% and a gun death rate per 100,000 of 19.58. Hawaii, on the other hand, has a household gun ownership percentage of 9.7%, and a rate of 2.58 gun deaths per 100,000 people. These statistics would support the idea that greater gun ownership would lead to a greater number of gun deaths in any given state.
But there are other societal factors, as well. In certain environments, thanks to dangerous influences, gun deaths can skyrocket alongside gun ownership, simply because of the nature of the location. In urban environments with many gangs, for instance, gun ownership itself is not only likely to rise, but so are gun deaths. A large portion of gun deaths of young people, from ages 14 to 19, is due to intentional homicides, likely caused in gang conflicts.
In such environments, it would seem that the link between gun ownership and gun deaths does pan out, but just as much because of external factors, leading to greater gun ownership and gun usage, as because of the simple relationship between gun ownership and gun deaths.
The question of whether gun ownership causes more gun deaths still remains debated by scholars and scientists today, as they endlessly reinterpret data. It is fundamentally tied up with the issue at hand, a likely no answer will ever fully be agreed upon.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Overview

Mayors Against Illegal Guns Overview

Mayors Against Illegal Guns is a coalition of, as the title would suggest, mayors from various American cities who have banded together in order to take action against the problem of illegal guns, be it through implementing new gun laws in their own jurisdictions, or through whatever other means they can. As they say on their website, “The issue of illegal guns is not conservative or liberal; it is an issue of law and order — and life or death.” 
The prevailing opinion of this coalition is that illegal guns are a major problem, not because guns are inherently dangerous, but because the presence of guns in the hands of individuals who cannot legally hold them is very dangerous. The coalition’s primary aim is not in restricting guns, but is instead in combating crime via new gun laws and enforcement procedures.
Over 500 mayors from across America have signed a statement of principles, attaching them to the coalition, including prominent members Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York and Mayor Thomas M. Menino of Boston.
This statement of principles is not necessarily a statement of action, but is instead simple a list of the basic ideals that the coalition holds, with which the signing mayor agrees; no mayor is committing to act in certain specific ways or to implement certain specific new gun laws, but each is committing to principles such as punishing to the maximum effect those criminals who possess, use, and traffic in illegal guns, or targeting and holding accountable irresponsible gun dealers who break the law by knowingly selling guns to straw purchasers (according to the website).
The group was founded in 2006 by an initial group of 15 mayors after a meeting at Gracie Mansion in New York City. Now, the group has members in over 40 states, and is actively involved in attempting to make the public more aware of the problem of illegal guns.
They offer up news on the subject, as well as information on new gun laws in legislation, and state and local initiatives that might be important to interested parties. They also offer purely practical information about what to do if your gun is lost or stolen.
In 2008, the organization released a report titled The Movement of Illegal Guns in America: The Link between Gun Laws and Interstate Trafficking. The report came to the conclusion that those states with the weakest laws concerning gun regulation were also the most likely to be the source of illegal guns in other states. In other words, the number of illegal guns in America is greatly heightened by the prevalence of weak gun laws in some states, while strong gun laws exist in others.
A gun can be purchased in one state and simply transported to another, illegally, but with little difficulty. Their response to this would likely be to suggest new gun laws to increase the measures for controlling guns, but the group does not come out with overarching policies to which all its members adhere.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is notable for its bi-partisan membership, and also for all it has accomplished in its fight to crack down on illegal guns, from new gun laws to simply increasing public awareness. It has actually even succeeded in getting Wal-Mart, the largest seller of firearms in the nation, to adopt the Responsible Firearms Retailer Partnership.
This Partnership is a ten point code designed to prevent the spread of illegal firearms. The partnership includes provisions such as one for the required videotaping of the point of sale for all firearms transactions, and one for denial of all sales without a successfully returned background check.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns stands out as one of the foremost efforts to eliminate illegal guns in America today. Their work should be lauded, both for its goodness, and for its ability to transcend party lines.

Guide to Illegal Gun Trade

Guide to Illegal Gun Trade

The illegal gun trade is actually far less formal and substantiated of a thing than it might sound. Most illegal guns actually do not begin their existence that way; they are originally purchased as perfectly legal guns, at gun shops. Gun crime, as a result, is actually originated at the gun stores from which the guns are obtained.
While the gun stores cannot be held accountable, as they likely sold the guns under perfectly legal conditions, the fact is that criminals with an intent to perpetrate gun violence have easily found a way around America’s gun control legal system, and are able to use it to their own advantage. Gun crime is easy to commit when one can obtain a gun in one state, and move it to the other, without much difficulty.
The illegal gun trade often takes its form in robbery and casual exchanges of weapons. Young criminals can steal guns from either homes that have guns, or from gun stores themselves, and thereby arm themselves. Also, many who have caused gun violence received their first gun from a family member, or a fellow gang member, instead of buying it legally. So the illegal gun trade often has this element of informality that makes it all the harder to combat.
Gun violence does, technically, include the misuse of legal guns as part of its purview, but a great deal of gun violence is caused by guns diverted through the illegal gun trade.
This is especially because in many of the areas of the country in which conditions can lead to gun violence, state legislatures have specifically set out to prevent such gun violence by creating stronger restrictions on the purchase of guns. But the illegal gun trade allows for guns to easily pass from state to state, allowing purchasers to buy guns in one state with lax restrictions, and then transport them and distribute them illegally into another state.
A recent report on Maryland, for instance, found that nearly half the guns used in gun crimes in Maryland were actually illegally imported into Maryland from the other states. Maryland’s own highly restrictive gun laws do not stop the illegal gun trade from bringing more weapons into Maryland.
Gun crime often increases even in the face of stricter gun regulations, specifically because of the power of the illegal gun trade. With guns being so easily accessible, thanks to the facility with which an illegal gun trader can get guns from one state to another, it is no wonder that gun violence continues to be a problem, even in those sections of the country with the most strident gun laws. To a certain extent, even though different parts of the country require different laws, the illegal gun trade can only be truly affected if gun laws become more uniform throughout the country.
Treating such laws as separate things for each state only results in the gun crime being able to grow through the illegal gun trade; instead, accepting that the states are interconnected could be one of the best ways to make a huge dent in gun violence.