Firearm retailers' willingness to participate in an illegal gun purchase

J Urban Health. 2010 Sep;87(5):865-78. doi: 10.1007/s11524-010-9489-6.


Firearm-related violence is a significant public health and public safety problem for cities in the USA, and licensed firearm retailers are an important source of the guns used in that violence. Using a scripted telephone interview, we screened a sample of licensed retailers in California to assess their willingness to participate in the surrogate or "straw" purchase of a handgun; such purchases are illegal under federal law. Of 149 retailers who provided a response, 30 (20.1%) agreed to participate. In multivariate analysis, pawnbrokers were more likely to agree than were gun dealers (odds ratio 6.58, 95% confidence interval 1.99-21.71). Sales of handguns that were later subjected to ownership tracing (a proxy measure for a gun's use in crime) were not more frequent among retailers who agreed to participate than among others, and other findings were unexpected as well.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • California
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Firearms / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Marketing / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Marketing / methods*
  • Marketing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Violence / prevention & control
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult