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Monitoring the Illegal Firearms Market

Survey data and records of the manufacture and sale of guns have generated a good deal of information about the number of guns, characteristics of gun owners, and the motives for gun ownership and use. Despite this, knowledge about the important relationship between offenders and gun markets remains unclear.

The purpose of SANDAG's study Monitoring the Illegal Firearms Market was to expand the knowledge of how offenders obtain guns, their reasons for doing so, and the nature of the gun market.

Building on the then Drug Use Forecasting (DUF), now Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM), program of the National Institute of Justice, more than 7,000 interviews were administered during the first six months of 1995.

Interviews were conducted with three important population subgroups, including adult males, adult females, and juvenile males. The research examined four specific topics: (1) access to guns, or how they were obtained, (2) availability of guns, or how easy they were to obtain, (3) use of guns, particularly the motive for use, and (4) the values associated with gun ownership and use.

The research focused on the role of gangs, drug markets, and drug use, as well as a variety of cultural and demographic variables whose association with firearms violence has been the object of considerable speculation. The data collected through this project enabled researchers to move beyond speculation and begin offering a solid empirical foundation for understanding the illegal firearms market.

Project Manager

Dr. Cynthia Burke, Director, Research and Program Management
Phone: (619) 699-1910, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or