Many guns used by criminals bought on black market, study shows

As the gun-control debate continues to rage, a survey released this month by the Department of Justice (DOJ) showed that many armed criminals have relied on the black market for guns.

Based on the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (SPI), about 1 in 5 – 21 percent – of all state and federal prisoners reported they had “possessed or carried a firearm when they committed the offense for which they were serving time in prison.”

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According to the study, an estimated 287,400 prisoners possessed a firearm during their offense. The findings concluded 6 percent had stolen the weapon, 7 percent found it at a crime scene and 43 percent obtained it off the street or on the black market. More than 25 percent had received it from a family member or friend, or as a gift.

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About 1.3 percent of all prisoners obtained a gun from a retail source and used it during their offense, the study stated. Moreover, among the prisoners who possessed a firearm during their offense, “0.8 percent obtained it at a gun show.”

Overall, handguns were the most common type of firearm possessed by prisoners, and about 1 in 5 state and federal prisoners who possessed a firearm during their offense obtained it with the intent to use it during the crime.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this report misstated government figures on guns obtained through the black market and used in crimes.