drug dealers, street purchases, or the underground market (Harlow, 2001). Another 14 percent of those surveyed bought or traded guns at retail stores, pawnshops, flea markets, or gun shows (Harlow, 2001). However, some experts question the validity of commonly used research methodologies for identifying crime-gun-trafficking prevalence, arguing that trafficking is more closely associated with gun scarcity than inappropriate acquisition from licensed gun dealers (Kleck and Wang, 2009). A better understanding of the validity of different methods to evaluate the sources of crime guns would help inform policies aimed at disrupting the flow of guns to criminals.
There is a pressing need to obtain up-to-date, accurate information about how many guns are owned in the United States, their distribution and types, how people acquire them, and how they are used. Policies that seek to reduce the health burden of firearm-related violence can be strengthened by being grounded in sound information about the possession of guns for nonviolent as well as violent purposes. This kind of information should be obtained for three broad populations of interest: (1) the general population of the United States, (2) the youth population of the United States, and (3) offenders. To help achieve a better understanding of the characteristics of gun violence, the following two research topics were identified as priorities.
Characterize the scope of and motivations for gun acquisition, ownership, and use, and how are they distributed across subpopulations.
Examples of information that could be examined:
• Collect data about gun ownership, acquisition, and use for various groups within the U.S. general population.
Focus on those at greatest risk of causing injury.
Focus on those at greatest risk of injury—urban and rural youth, racial/ethnic minority populations, and those living in concentrated poverty.