Research Reports

2017 Gun Trace Report


On October 29, 2017, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department (CPD), in collaboration with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, released the 2017 Gun Trace Report, which analyzed data from 2013 -2016 to identify the origin of guns being used in crimes. The report finds that:

  • Annually, the Chicago Police Department seizes nearly 7,000 illegal guns, outnumbering Los Angeles and New York City each year;
  • Approximately two out of every five crime guns recovered in Chicago were originally purchased at Illinois gun dealers, many located in suburban Cook County; and
  • The vast majority of recovered crime guns were handguns possessed by adults, though the number of juvenile possessors has been trending upwards from approximately 9 percent of those arrested in possession of a firearm, to nearly 13 percent in 2016.

Concurrently, a new publication by The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, “The Underground Gun Market: Implications of Regulation and Enforcement” provides new insight to our understanding of trends and patterns of gun ownership, the ease of obtaining firearms for criminal purposes, the social costs of gun misuse, and effective policies for reducing access to guns for those seeking to acquire guns for criminal purposes.

Available online, ahead of the November 1, 2017 publication, and edited by Joyce grantees Phillip Cook of Duke University and Harold Pollack of The University of Chicago, key findings include:

  • The U.S. civilian gun stock has grown from approximately 192 million firearms in 1994 to approximately 265 million firearms in 2015;
  • Handgun ownership is highly concentrated: while the average gun owner owns two firearms, half of the gun stock (approximately 130 million guns) is owned by approximately 3% of the U.S. adult population who own ten or more firearms;
  • An evaluation of Maryland’s handgun purchaser licensing requirement, mandatory lost or stolen gun reporting by gun owners, and regulation of retail gun dealers found that these laws were effective in preventing the diversion of handguns to prohibited persons and those seeking to acquire guns for criminal purposes.

A better understanding of how dangerous people obtain their guns will help policy makers, advocates, law enforcement and the public improve our collective understanding of the problem of gun violence in America and solutions that can prevent it.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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