A report issued last week by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of more than 500 mayors that I co-chair with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, highlights the connection between weak gun laws and illegal gun trafficking among states. The report, Trace the Guns: the Link Between Gun Laws and Interstate Gun Trafficking, looks at data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and proves, beyond a doubt, that comprehensive gun trafficking laws are critical to preventing violent crime.
The report shows that Massachusetts is a national leader, ranking 47th in guns exported. That means only 3 other states export fewer illegal guns. Massachusetts has 9 out of 10 laws identified by the coalition as key to preventing illegal gun trafficking, while some states have as few as one or two. These laws are not about making gun ownership more difficult for legal, responsible gun owners, but are focused on keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of violent criminals.
The data concludes that just 10 states with weak gun laws account for nearly half – 49 percent – of the guns that crossed state lines before being recovered in crimes. These ten states (Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alaska, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Nevada, and Georgia) that supplied crime guns at the highest rates each supplied them at a rate more than twice the national average. They also had the fewest number of key laws aimed at preventing gun trafficking. In Massachusetts, approximately 3.6 guns are exported per 100,000 inhabitants, while the national average is 14.1. In 2009, 63 percent of crime guns recovered in Massachusetts came from neighboring states with more lenient gun laws, such as New Hampshire and Maine.
Although our state is a leader when it comes to legislation, illegal guns continue to be a problem infiltrating our streets and neighborhoods. This important report reaffirms what we already know – that comprehensive laws targeting gun trafficking are essential to preventing violent crime and keeping our neighborhoods and residents safe. I hope it will also bring greater awareness to legislators across the country so that we can all work together to keep illegal guns out of the hands of those who would use them to harm or instill fear in others.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns began in 2006 with a group of 15 mayors dedicated to protecting their communities by holding gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers accountable. Today it has grown to over 500 mayors. This report is just one piece of our mission. We continue our efforts to combat illegal gun trafficking by working with legislators to fix gaps, weaknesses and loopholes in the law that make it far too easy for criminals and other prohibited purchasers to obtain guns.
For more information about the report, visit the interactive website www.tracetheguns.org. The website features interactive, state-by-state maps that show at a glance each state’s crime gun exports, imports and time-to-crime trends. It also provides information about states that have passed laws designed to curb illegal gun trafficking and how those laws affect crime gun exports.