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Where do illegal guns come from?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by The Janitor, Nov 5, 2008.

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  1. The Janitor

    The Janitor Member

    May 13, 2008
    By illegal guns, I mean guns owned by felony offenders and the likes not permitted to buy guns. Your local Meth Dealer, or Gangbanger Junior High kids for example. How is the underground market for guns sustained?

    I've read news stories about people breaking into pawnshops and even police evidence rooms and making off with guns. Then there is always the occasional redneck who had their truck broken into and their window rack cleared off. So then the thieves take the guns wherever, where they are eventually introduced to the access of unsavory characters. Likely traded for an 8-ball at a crackhous or gang hangout. Do smaller crimes like these make up the better part of the illegal gun supply?

    Could there be an even be a more conspiratorial reason, such as rich anti-gun supporters buying up guns in bulk from gun shows, and then re-distributing them down the line?

    I'd be interested to read an informed explanation...Or possibly a pie-chart.
  2. Sepia

    Sepia Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Tampa FL
    I would say that a large percentage of them come from burglaries and the like. I also know that private sales seem to be a big way to get your hands on them with no checks. People use to use Craigs list to buy and sell until they finally put a stop to it, but most local papers in my area still have guns in the want ads too.
  3. Lewis130

    Lewis130 Member

    Jul 23, 2008
    In the UK, there are very few legal gun owners, and those only really have bolt action rifles and side by sides. Since there's thousands of pistols and even machine guns on the streets, that indicates an international illegal gun trade. Whether that's true of this side of the pond, I don't know.
  4. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    Primarily stolen. Some from homes, some from vehicles, some taken from others.

    As long as citizens are armed, a ready supply will be available to criminals. If regular citizens were not armed, criminals still would be, just fewer of them with guns. Some would still have guns, some would have superior physical strength, and many would use various blunt weapons, edged weapons etc

    Females and the less physicaly capable would be much worse off. Some men possibly better off. And the few that still ran into those smaller number of criminals with guns simply screwed.

    Criminal firearms tend to stay in circulation awhile.
    A couple decades ago most criminals were using things like .25 autos and lorcins, jennings etc Some had cheap snubbies.
    They were the cheapest thing they could purchase, often without taking from thier drug habit.
    So they often had cheap firearms.

    Now we have more violent crime, and yet the criminals are much better armed. They are better armed because they no longer purchase most of thier own firearms and must opt for the cheapest thing available. Now they steal whatever the next guy has, often much better quality reliable firearms. After all gun control saved us from those cheap firearms.

    Criminals will always have whatever is available in society. Both from the black market and theft. If a law abiding citizen has thier firearms locked in a safe, and a criminal armed with a blunt weapon, a gun or something else invades thier home, kidnaps them outside etc and then forces them to open thier safe, they have all those firearms for themselves.
    They can use threats or harm thier family members for leverage if needed. So even if everyone has thier firearms in some safe, they will be available for criminals.
    If people are carrying them in vehicles, or have them readily available for use in the home, they can be stolen.

    Even a CCW on someone does them little good if multiple thugs are in arm's reach and cover them with weapons before patting them down and searching them, taking both thier valuables and any gun they run across.

    So firearms are great for protection, but as long as they are available for protection from criminals, a percentage will also become available to criminals.

    Arguably we were much better off when the local thug could purchase a pot metal 25 that jammed every few shots from the local gun store.
    Now they can only get quality self defense firearms on the black market stolen from other citizens.

    That is just the thugs. Organized crime can get them either internationaly, or from police, military etc In some parts of the world they are quite good at making thier own firearms.
    In fact when firearms are outlawed, the law no longer limits the type of firearms that end up in the black market. So full autos etc are more prevalent.
  5. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Member

    May 24, 2007
    Brandon, Florida
    I'm willing to bet most are from burglaries, and a smaller but significant chunk are straw sales.

    If that's slow or ending, they would be smuggled in from Cuba or Mexico, and I have no doubt there are already sweatshops there making Jennings-type stuff.
  6. TAB

    TAB Member

    Dec 18, 2007
    Lets also not forget some are legally purchased, Crimals are made, not born.(generally)
  7. Kind of Blued

    Kind of Blued Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Rocky Mountains
    So what you mean is "Where do illegally-owned guns come from?"

    A 15-year-old Crip who has killed five people with a Lorcin pistol can sell that pistol to his neighbor who he has never met before. The neighbor does not own an "illegal gun".

    Now somehow you get a hold of that pistol; not by foul play. That same gun, with that same serial number, having been used in five more murders, when sold from you to me, in an alleyway behind a strip club, is a "legal gun".

    The short answer to your question is "gangs".

    It's not really that simple, but gangs exist in order to collectively benefit financially from illegal behavior. They can DEFINITELY make gobs of money trafficking weapons, and they do every day.

    These guns come from many sources. Stolen from homes, stolen from gun stores, bought legally by non-felon gang members, bought legally by the girlfriends of gang members, etc.

    The underground gun market is sustained by supply and demand. A 21-year-old Sur 13 who has not been caught for any of his felonious actions is likely not going to go into a gun store in good faith and fill out paperwork. Why spend a half hour at a gun shop when he can avoid the interrogation and complexities and just buy a gun from another gang member?

    Paying $100 more is no big deal. Paying $100+ for a box of FMJs on the street is not uncommon for a gang member, felon or not.
  8. Golden Hound

    Golden Hound Member

    Apr 26, 2008
    Sort of related, where did all those gangsters in the 20s and 30s get their Tommy guns? Was there a huge surplus of them from the military that was somehow stolen? Or were they ordered right from the company?
  9. ants

    ants Member

    Nov 24, 2007
    Straight from the Department of Justice web site:

    They also estimate that 15% of new guns are used in a crime in less than two years after the initial sale.
    In other words, people are legally buying guns, then they land in the hands of the criminal through family, private sale, or theft.
  10. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    If you listen to the BATFE (and believe in what they say)-

    illegal guns from all sources filter out of southern states along the
    east coast; working their way on to the streets of New York city.
    From here, they are dispersed amongest some of this nations
    worst criminals; and end up being swapped for dope, cash or
    both. I say that is BS; but the federal boys have to have some
    one to blame it on~! :uhoh: ;)
  11. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    They also rob gun stores:

    Let us also not forget how simple firearms are.
    Any person could build a full auto SMG with basic hand tools in a single day. They are simplier than a semi auto.
    With machine tools within an hour.
    Take a look at how simple something like the "grease gun" or the Sten are. Basicly a couple pipes with some springs, bolt and a trigger and feeding mechanism.

    A shotgun in about 10 min. All it has to do is be a tube strong enough to contain the blast, the cartridge, and with a simple mechanism that strikes the cartridge.
    I have known many scuba divers that would build thier own bang guns for shark defense with little more than a pipe, spring and nail, and then build in a safety that just allowed a pin to be inserted in order to keep it from being able to discharge. (Technicaly they still need to follow legal federal law, so don't just build one of any size.)
    I have seen those homemade types discharged a number of times and they work fine.

    Even without any available ammunition it is easy to make a working firearm really quickly.
    People can make powder, and various other suitable propellants easily. A metal tube sealed at one end, a little powder and viola a gun. You can have a mechanical trigger, electric ignition with a few batteries etc and make a single shot firearm as powerful as any 12 guage in 20 min.
    An individual could then use that lethal firearm to aquire other firearms from other citizens, police, etc

    I was quick to respond because often when people ask the question, they are looking for ways to reduce the flow to criminals. Inevitably that often leads to proposed restrictions on law abiding citizens, reduced rights, and criminals still in possession of and aquiring firearms.
    Illegal firearms are here to stay.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  12. MDW GUNS

    MDW GUNS Member

    Mar 6, 2004
    Maine USA
    Beside stolen guns, there are people who just legally buy them and then turn around and sell them to criminals for profit.
  13. Golden Hound

    Golden Hound Member

    Apr 26, 2008
    I have a book called "Bully" (which was later turned into a movie) about some teenagers in Florida who killed one of their friends who tormented them, and about problems with youth culture and crime in general. You may have seen the movie; it starred Brad Renfro, who now unfortunately is dead. Anyway, in the BOOK, it says, "Fort Lauderdale police say that the average price of a handgun among middle school students in Broward County is about the same as a cocaine rock - about ten dollars." This cannot possibly be true, can it? The incident happened in 1996, I think. Is the book lying? Poorly researched? Did someone hijack a giant truck full of guns and sell them all for ten dollars apiece?
  14. JT in VA

    JT in VA Member

    Sep 28, 2008
    Burglaries, straw purchases, as trade for narcotics, etc.
  15. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

    Jun 12, 2005
    Phoenix Az
    Its amazing what these guys are carrying sometimes. Ive never seen a thug with anything spectacular. If its better than a High Point or a Lorcin its rare. Most usually wont have a full mag and many times will have different brands of ammo in the same mag. I rarely see hollowpoints. I once picked up an old .22 revolver from a scene that had a different brand of round in each cylinder. Come on guys, you cant even get 6 of the same .22 lr's??

    I have personaly, in my one and a half years of being a cop, have seen at least a couple dozen firearms taken in burglaries. I have seen more than once the pistols stolen but the rifles and shotguns left.

    Plus earlier this year, one of the gunstores here got burglarized and lost I believe upwards of 50 firearms.
  16. Golden Hound

    Golden Hound Member

    Apr 26, 2008
    Well, criminals obviously don't read THR or else they would have better gear! Hollywood is largely responsible for the incredible public misconception that there are groups of super-criminals out there with incredible planning, tactics, and skill. Like that armored car robbery in HEAT where they have all these little tricks to beat the cops...and they're armed with M16s and FALs...criminals in real life tend to be hopelessly incompetent...particularly the ones that get caught, of course.
  17. JWF III

    JWF III Member

    Jun 22, 2007
    Mansfield, Georgia
    Forgive me if this has already been said, I didn't read all the posts. But most illegal guns come from us legal gun owners. Meaning that most of them were stolen from their rightful owner. Then there are probably some cases that a legal gun owner got mixed up in the wrong ways of life (i.e. drugs) and sold or traded the gun to someone that couldn't legally own it. Then there are probably some cases that a legal gun owner made a legal FTF sell to someone that they didn't read quite right. As much as we try not to, I'm sure that there are at least a few that get sold by us to the less desirable kind. It's just inevitable that it will happen a few times out of the thousands of private sales each year. This is why I sell almost no guns. In my gun collecting life I've sold one gun, to a close friend, for his son to use hunting. I know that I haven't put any guns into the wrong hands.

    Where do illegal guns come from? They come from legal guns that are (in some way, either legal or illegal trade) acquired by someone that legally can not own guns. Upon their acquisition of the (legal) gun, it becomes an illegal gun, and destined to burn in the hell of a chop saw or cutting torch. Such a sad end to a perfectly legal gun.


    Edited to add: Another place that illegal guns come from is the stroke of a politicians pen. Let's just pray that doesn't happen here.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
  18. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

    May 10, 2005
    Kingsport Tennessee
    Bonnie and Clyde had BARs stolen from National Guard Armories.
    John Dillinger had tommy guns stolen from Illinois police stations.
    Ma Barker's gang had machineguns stolen from the US Army.

    Al Capone had a standing offer of $3,000.00 each for tommy guns (at a time when the MSRP was $175.00 to $200.00) to greed was a major source.

    Knoxville TN police told the newspaper that 80% of criminal guns came from illegal sources.

    James Wright and Peter Rossi in the NIJ Felon Survey found that most criminals got guns from burglary or theft, second hand from friends, acquaintances or family members, and any legal purchases were straw purchases.

    Then there was the infamous interdiction of 2,000 full auto AK47s smuggled into Oakland CA on board the Chinese freighter Empress Phoenix, and lesser incidents of international smuggling.

    ATF claims that while gun shows account for 10% of the gun market, gun show purchases account for less than 2% of crime guns.

    Antigun author Robert Sherrill pointed out that the crime gun represents 1 of every 400 guns.

    Kinda makes onerous restrictions on legal purchase and legal ownership look like a waste of police resources to me.
  19. Ben86

    Ben86 Member

    Sep 9, 2008
    MS, USA
    Mostly they get guns by stealing them. To a lesser extent they get them from private sales and so called black markets.
  20. foghornl

    foghornl Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    About a week or so back, some marked cruisers were broken into while parked at the Cleveland Police station (I don't remember which precinct, off the top of my head).

    Stolen items included body armor, uniforms, shotguns, and portable 2-way radios (walky-talky). Shotguns appeared to be the standard 'riot gun' Rem-870 type.

    Miscreants apprently jumped the fence of the parking lot...no vid-cams, very poorly lighted. Did this 2 or 3 nights in a row. CPD either doesn't know, or won't admit how much police gear was stolen.
  21. krs

    krs Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Tall Trees
    Before the National Firearms Act of 1934 they probably bought them in the local hardware or general store.

    The boxes that Colt revolvers came in had a promotional "Finest pistols, revolvers, and machine guns available" or some such wording printed on the inside of the box. See it under the trigger guard of this nice PP?
  22. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 7, 2006
    Texan by birth, in Colorado cause I hate humidity
    Guns are not illegal. The possession of them by certain individuals is illegal. Mostly from straw purchases and robberies. Might want to loosen the tin foil a bit...
  23. wep45

    wep45 Member

    Aug 21, 2008
    any street corner in the hood
  24. mgkdrgn

    mgkdrgn Member

    Jul 21, 2008
    Lexington, SC
    never mind ... stats I was trying to remember are in an earlier post.
  25. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

    Oct 27, 2006
    About a year ago there was two seperate instances localy of full auto mp5 submachineguns stolen from LEO vehicles that made the news here in CA.

    Often that type of thing is kept quiet as it is an embarrassment to the department.

    A really significant incident happened in DC in 2007, when handguns were still illegal, it had the highest murder rate in the nation (which it probably still does), and law abiding citizens usualy didn't own firearms:
    Imagine that, 4 select fire weapons, and a couple others stolen from an FBI vehicle in a city the mere peasants couldn't even have a pistol.
    It is my understanding the weapons were never recovered in any of the instances.

    The same exact thing was reported in DC a couple years before that:
    If we stick to just DC you can find instances of it happening multiple times.
    If you expand to most large cities you can also find instances of it happening on a regular basis.
    Those are just the ones that make it to the news.
    Many times they do not even make it to the mainstream media, because it is embarassing and they try to resolve it without the bad publicity if possible.
    Then you must live where they can still purchase thier own.
    Criminals in much of the nation have whatever the people they steal from had. Not many people are stocking up on lorcins. .22 revolvers, and similar things anymore.
    In theft the price tag does not matter. They only get crap when they (or the poor people in a bad area they steal from) are using thier own money to purchase the firearms.
    In my state private party transfers are banned, we have an approved pistol list, and "junk guns" and other budget ones are not on the approved list. So most criminals have quality semi autos, which are usualy what is recovered from the criminals.
    They ceased to primarily have junk guns within 5 years or so of them being banned in the state.

    Here is a good article listing just some of the gear stolen from LEO that made headlines dated Thursday, 13 March 2008 Unfortunately they do not cite the types of weapons stolen, which are often select fire and not even legal for the average joe :

    Clearly for any organized criminal the ability to aquire anything the police travel around with is not too difficult.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2008
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