203307 An environmental approach to preventing firearm violence: Targeting illegal gun trafficking

Monday, November 9, 2009: 2:30 PM

Jon S. Vernick, JD, MPH , Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH , Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Environmental approaches to preventing firearm-related deaths include targeting manufacturers and dealers through legislation, litigation, voluntary actions, and police enforcement practices. One prominent goal of both governments and advocacy groups has been to reduce illegal gun trafficking. Just one percent of firearm dealers were responsible for nearly 60% of guns traced to crime in 2000. Efforts to crack down on problems dealers, including undercover sting operations, have proven effective. New York City employed stings and lawsuits to persuade dealers to adopt practices designed to deter illegal sales. The nation's largest seller of firearms recently voluntarily agreed to a similar code of conduct. Legislation can require a state license for firearm dealers (just 17 states require a license) and compliance with enhanced oversight measures. States with these policies and enforcement practices have less firearm trafficking. Tracing the source of firearms is an important component of an overall strategy to reduce trafficking. But the federal Tiahrt amendment limits jurisdictions' ability to share tracing data. Efforts are now on-going to repeal the Tiahrt amendment, spearheaded by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group of more than 300 city mayors. Beginning in the1990s, more than 25 cities and states sued the firearm industry arguing, in part, that the practices of manufacturers and dealers contributed to the illegal firearms market. Unlike state efforts to sue the tobacco industry, most of these lawsuits were dismissed or withdrawn, and laws were enacted to limit these suits. However, the lawsuit brought by Gary, Indiana is ready to go to trial.

Learning Objectives:
Describe environmental approaches to reducing illegal firearms trafficking. Compare environmental approaches to reducing firearm violence with approaches to reduce the public health consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and obesity.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and have researched and published on firearm violemce issues for 17 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.