First sweeping federal report on guns and crime in 20 years released

The most expansive federal report in more than two decades on guns and crime was published by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, AP News reports.

The report comes as the nation grapples with a rise in violent crime, particularly from guns. 

Much of the data had not been widely available before, and the release of the report is aimed at helping police and policymakers reduce gun violence. 

The report shows a rising prevalence of semiautomatic pistols in gun crime. 

It also shows a shrinking turnaround time between when the gun was purchased and when it was recovered from a crime scene. 

That indicates that firearms bought legally are more quickly being used in crimes around the country. The report found that 54 percent of guns that police located at crime scenes in 2021 have been legally purchased within the last three years.

It also documents a spike in the use of conversion devices that make a semiautomatic gun fire like a machine gun, along with the growing seizure of so-called ghost guns, privately made firearms that are hard to trace.

About two million guns linked to crimes were recovered by law enforcement officials around the country from 2017 to 2021 — many of them semiautomatic pistols modeled on Glock 9-millimeter handguns. 

This comes as the U.S. deals with its highest recorded gun deaths in more than 25 years — especially among Black Americans. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives analyzed data in a federal gun tracing system to create a statistical portrait that law enforcement agencies can use to address new threats, such as the increased use of untraceable homemade firearms known as “ghost guns.”

The report is the second volume of a three-part study. 

It largely reinforced well-known patterns, including the importance of quickly investigating weapons thefts or illegal purchases to keep them from being used in crimes and the fact that the people most likely to use guns in crimes are men under the age of 40.

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