Law enforcement uses time-to-crime, the duration between a firearm's last legal purchase and its use in a criminal act, to identify potential arms trafficking. The shorter the amount of time, the more likely the gun was purchased with criminal intent.
A recent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) report compared the time-to-crime for men and women and revealed that guns bought by women had a quicker turnaround for being used in a crime. Thirty-six percent of guns traced back to female buyers were used in a crime within one year of purchase, 12 points higher than men (24%).
The report also found that female possessors (meaning they had the gun at a crime scene but might not have been the purchaser) had a slightly higher percentage of guns used within one year of purchase (31%) compared to male possessors (26%). However, at five points, the difference is smaller than that for purchasers.
People 18 to 24 had the highest share of guns recovered within a year, both buyers and possessors (37% and 36%, respectively). This was similar for people ages 25–34 (29% for buyers and 28% for possessors) and over 35 (17% for both).
Minors, who cannot legally buy guns, were an exception: 22% of guns traced back to minor possessors were recovered within a year.
The new ATF report covers much of where guns used in crimes originate, who buys them, and the amount of time that passes between purchase and use in a crime. And despite the report’s detailed demographic data, the ATF does not provide an explanation for why women’s guns have a shorter time-to-crime than men’s.
For a fuller picture of crime in the US, read about which firearm had the shortest time-to-crime and get more USAFacts data in your inbox by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.
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