Guns and Youth Violence: An Examination of Crime Guns in One City

Date of Original Version



Working Paper

Abstract or Description

Firearms are an important factor in violent crimes. Nationally, the percentage of violent offenses that involve use of a firearm closely tracks changes in the supply of newly manufactured pistols (Figure 1). As more pistols became available their use in violent crimes increased. After 1985, firearms were especially implicated in the dramatic rise in juvenile homicide rates, both as victims (Fingerhut, 1993; Fingerhut, et al., 1998) and offenders (Blumstein, 1995). While juvenile rates of homicides by gun surged upward, both adult and nongun juvenile homicide rates remained relatively flat during the same period (Blumstein and Cork, 1996; Cork, 1996). While the link between guns and youth homicides is compelling in aggregate data, very little is known about how gun availability actually affects individual behavior among youth, whether that effect differs between young adults and juveniles, and whether that relationship has changed over time. The research discussed here examines spatial and temporal features of crime guns in one city. The analysis focuses on attributes of crime guns and those who possess them, the geographic sources of those guns, the distribution of crime guns over neighborhoods in a city, and the relationship between the prevalence of crime guns and incidence of violent crimes especially homicides.