In recent months the breaking news of Oscar Pistorius, the South African Paralympic star and the senseless shooting which resulted in the death of his girl-friend, Reeva Steenkamp, outlined the issue once again of privately owned handguns being used to commit serious crimes.
It is in this case, however, the owner of the gun that caused the untimely death of a vivacious young lady and yet in other scenarios this is not he status quo. It has also come at an opportune time where America stands on the brink of new developments arising within the gun trade.
The Jump From Legal To Illegal
Privately owned weapons under the bracket of being legally owned weapons do not always necessarily remain as such. Legal firearms enter the black-market or are stolen and are consequently used illegally and more often than not in the case of serious crimes. According to the Oxford Dictionary the definition of a crime in “…an action or ommission that constitutes an offense and is punishable by law…”
The Federal Bureau of Investigation annually publishes statistics from its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. UCR categorizes serious crimes as a “Part 1 Offense” which includes Personal or Violent crimes such as aggravated assault which is further defined as “Unlawfully attacking another person to inflict severe or aggravated bodily injury, usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or grave bodily harm. Attempted aggravated assault that involves the use or threat of use of a gun, knife or other weapon is included in this crime category because serious personal injury likely would result.” This category also includes murder and robbery.
According to an article written by the Minneapolis Forum, “12,000 gun related murders are committed on American soil every year.” Methods of obtaining illegal weapons are attributed to several factors and according to the survey it is reported that illegal weapons in America are obtained from corrupt gun dealers, buyers fronting for relatives or underage buyers and friends that do not have a clean record and would most likely not be approved for a clean purchase and further obtain the weapons after the purchase.
Private gun sales, according to their statistics, are another way that legal weapons irreversibly become illegal.
In a Crime Data Brief issued by the US Department of Justice in November 2012 (Lynn Langton BJS Statistician), it was reported that “…93% of the theft of guns occurred during property crimes between 2005 and 2010.” The data reports the link between theft, illegally obtained weapons and serious crimes committed in America. According to the brief “…in 83% of property crimes, none of the stolen guns had been recovered,” according to the NCVS (National Crime Victimization Survey, 2005-2010). Another striking fact published in a report collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation contained in the Crime Data Brief comprised within 2005-2010 stated that “…the FBI agencies that submitted data, reported that an average of $122 million worth of firearms are stolen each year” in America.
High Crime Rate Leads To More Gun Sales
As was highlighted in the recent Oscar Pistorius case, a high crime rate inadvertently becomes a major contributor to the sales and purchase of legally obtained weapons.
Not everyone, however, legally purchasing a firearm contemplates the probability that their well guarded weapons bought for the protection and safety of their families might possibly enter into the hands of individuals with criminal activities in mind and might also just be used in murders, robberies and many other diabolical crimes.
Some of these weapons that at one point are legally obtained for the best of intentions are inevitably used for the very opposite of the initial purpose that they were intended, which is that instead of the protection and safety of families they are predominantly used in their basic and ultimate purpose and that is destruction.