Effects of a gun dealer's change in sales practices on the supply of guns to criminals

J Urban Health. 2006 Sep;83(5):778-87. doi: 10.1007/s11524-006-9073-2.


Licensed gun dealers are a major conduit for gun trafficking. Prior to May 1999, a single gun store sold more than half of the guns recovered from criminals in Milwaukee, WI, shortly following retail sale. On May 10, 1999, the store stopped selling small, inexpensive handguns popular with criminals, often called "Saturday night specials." The purpose of this study was to estimate the effect of this gun store's changed sales practices on criminals' acquisition of new guns. We used an interrupted time-series design with comparisons to test for changes in the number of guns that police recovered from criminals within a year of retail sale following the gun dealer's new sales policy. The dealer's changed sales policy was associated with a 96% decrease in recently sold, small, inexpensive handguns use in crime in Milwaukee, a 73% decrease in crime guns recently sold by this dealer, and a 44% decrease in the flow of all new, trafficked guns to criminals in Milwaukee. The findings demonstrate the substantial impact that a single gun store's sales practices can have on the supply of new guns to criminals. Proposed anti-gun-trafficking efforts in other cities could benefit from targeting problem retail outlets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Crime / economics*
  • Firearms / economics*
  • Humans
  • Licensure
  • Marketing / economics*
  • United States