One common argument often made by pro-firearm activists as a counter to blanket gun-control measures is that in order to curb gun violence, the solution is to have increased punishments on the process of gun smuggling, or possessing unregistered, illegal, or smuggled firearms.

The argument stems from the notion that a leading cause of gun-related homicide comes from gang violence, as gangs often source from or participate in the firearm black market. Gang-related gun violence also can lead to innocent civilian deaths. The argument proposes that significantly increasing the criminal liability of possessing or participating in these activities would be disproportionately more effective at reducing deaths than any blanket gun ban would.

The question is, does this proposal hold water? I haven't been able to find any data on places that have implemented this type of policy, or if it has lead to the theorized outcome.

  • This isn't a political question. This question should actually should be asked on Stack Exchange Law
    – CDA
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 18:51
  • 2
    If you can find a quote/source stating the claim, this would be suitable on Skeptics SE. I'm not really sure this is ok on Law as @CDA suggests. Might want to check on the meta there first if the effectiveness of laws is on-topic. I feel the Q is a bit marginal here; we had debates before if policy [effectiveness] questions are on-topic or not... Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 20:06
  • On that latter issue see e.g. politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/33/… Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 20:13
  • I'm not sure it actually contains an answer to this, but it's closely related: fivethirtyeight.com/features/….
    – Bobson
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 20:51
  • You really need to specify what country or countries you're asking about.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Aug 31, 2021 at 23:49

1 Answer 1


It's hard to say, at least in the United States. The reason you're not finding data from the USA, which tends to be measured in terms of deaths per capita, is the sort of research is conducted by the CDC.

From 1996, until very recently, the CDC was de facto prohibited from including gun violence as an aspect of it's public health data collection. I say de facto (and not de jure) because as a matter of law there was no prohibition, but in 1996 The Dickey Amendment made it so that they simply couldn't use any of the money given to them by the federal government to do so, but since they're a federal agency...

Making matters worse, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), which is responsible for enforcing laws against things like gun smuggling, was - until very recently - banned from using computers in its records searches. This makes identifying the provenance of a given gun very difficult.

The long and the short of it is that data on gun violence has huge gaps and has not been consistently collected in the United States.

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