California Criminals Get Their Guns From Black Market

As gun laws in California continue to restrict the rights of legal gun owners, a recent string of robberies in Sacramento highlights the fact that stolen guns fuel the underground market from which criminals purchase their firearms in the state.

This story from NBC says at least seven gun stores have been targeted for burglaries in the Sacramento area in the past few months, with two occurring on July 14.

"Cash is extremely valuable because it can get you a number of things, but of the commodities that we find that people (who) are involved in criminal activity are looking for, guns are very high on the list," said Graham Barlowe, the Special Agent in Charge of the Sacramento office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

On an average day, at least 34 guns are reported lost or stolen in the state, according to the story, which adds up to more than 12,000 a year. The California Department of Justice says nearly 70,000 guns were reported lost or stolen to law enforcement agencies in the state between January 1, 2010 and September 30, 2015. NBC found out that most of those 70,000 guns were reported stolen, not missing, the story says. An analysis matching the serial numbers on those guns to police records from more than 70 California law enforcement agencies, found that 2,655 of the guns reported lost or stolen were used in crimes.

“People don’t steal guns for their collection. They steal guns to use those guns.”

- -Graham Barlow, ATF

The recent Sacramento burglaries were especially brazen, with one incident caught on security video. The footage shows a group of five men crashing an SUV through the front door of a gun store, 45 miles northeast of Sacramento. The video shows the men climbing over the crumpled security fencing that they tore through with the SUV, the story says.

"People don't steal guns for their collection," Barlowe said in the story. "They steal guns to use those guns."

These findings are in line with those from a study done by the University of Chicago last year, which discovered that nearly all guns used by criminals in that city, which has strict gun laws but just had its deadliest July in ten years, were obtained illegally.