Online Program

Silver bullet: "where did the gun come from?"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:42 p.m. - 2:54 p.m.

Jessica Duell, MPH, Epidemiolgy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Anthony Fabio, MPH, PhD, Graduate School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: Southwestern Pennsylvania experienced 100 homicides in 2012, the vast majority committed with firearms. Every year the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police takes nearly 1,000 guns off the street. The question is: Where are the guns coming from? Methods: We collected data on 893 firearms recovered by the Firearms Tracking Unit (FTU) of the Pittsburgh Police. Variables included type of gun, method of recovery, race and gender of the owner, whether the FTU was able to acquire contact information for the owner, whether the gun had been reported stolen, locality where it was reported stolen, and whether it was reported to an insurer. Results: An examination of one year, 2008, reveals that in 478 instances, perpetrators were found with guns that legally belonged to someone else. Of the 893 guns processed in that year, 691 were traced back to an individual, lawful owner. Of these, 292 guns were claimed to have been stolen. However, in 225 of those cases, either the gun was never reported stolen or there was no corresponding police report in the FTU file to confirm the theft. In 49 cases, the owners believed they knew who took their gun, and in 37 cases, a relationship was stated. Of the 691 guns traced to an owner, 161 (23%) were desired back by their owners and 111 (16%) were not wanted back. Conclusions: Further investigation is needed to determine how so many firearm owners are losing possession of their weapons.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe how firearms recovered by police are traced back to the source Identify the primary sources of crime guns Formulate policy responses to stop the flow of guns into unauthorized hands

Keyword(s): Firearms

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am President of a foundation examining root causes and approaches to preventing gun violence.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Falk Foundation Gun Violence Employment (includes retainer)

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.