SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As gun deaths in teens and young adults become increasingly more common, so is the number of guns being purchased and used in crimes, as seen in a new report.
According to the USAFacts Report, an increasing share of guns bought by 18 to 24-year-olds are ending up in crimes as the number of gun possessors has become more than the number of purchasers, including three percent of possessors younger than 17 years old.
We are seeing this data translate locally after just last month a Baldwinsville 17-year-old was arrested for allegedly possessing an illegally loaded gun, and Cicero Police arrested a 13-year-old who allegedly stole from Walmart carrying a gun.
Then there were the shooting threats including the 20-year-old who allegedly made a mass shooting threat at Tops and was arrested by Manlius Police or the 20-year-old student from Hamilton College who was arrested for making a threat of mass harm.
The report includes the most recent data from 2021 which shows more than 25 percent of people processed for using guns in crimes are aged 24 and below, including minors, despite buying a little over 21 percent of crime guns.
That buying percentage excludes minors who cannot legally purchase guns but is still disproportionate to the U.S. population for 18-24-year-olds (9%). In addition, 55% of guns in the U.S. used in crimes are bought by people aged 18-34 despite that range being only 23% of the U.S. population, and their share in purchasing grew 5% from 2019 to 2021.
The USAFacts report used data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that revealed data on the people who purchase guns later used in crimes, also known as crime guns from 2017-2021.
When comparing the age breakdowns of gun purchasers versus who possessed the gun at the time of the crime, the numbers are similar, but not the same. This shows that the gun purchaser is not necessarily the gun user.
Three percent of possessed traced crime guns belonged to minors 17 years old and under and 23.9 percent belonged to 18-24-year-olds which is 2.1 percent more than the number of purchasers in that age group.
Photo provided by USAFacts
“Over the next three years, the percentage of traced crime guns purchased by youths ages 18 to 24 increased by three percentage points from 2019 (21%) to 2021 (24%), reflecting a 17% increase in the share of crime guns purchased by this age group,” stated the ATF report.
During that same time in 2019, the number of privately made firearms (including ghost guns and 3D printed guns) that law enforcement submitted to the ATF tripled from 2019 to 2021, from nearly 6,000 to over 19,000.
Pistols also overtook rifles as the most common privately made firearm in 2019, and ATF concluded that the current data substantially undercounts the actual number of PMFs recovered in crimes.
Not only did gun purchases increase but the number of children and teens killed by gunfire in the United States increased by 50 percent between 2019 and 2021, according to a recent Pew Research Center study that used statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, there were 1,732 gun deaths among U.S. children and teens under the age of 18. By 2021, that figure had increased to 2,590,” stated the report.
Although many Americans were supportive of President Joe Biden signing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law on June 25, 2022, which made it the first new gun regulations passed by Congress in more than 30 years, most still want Congress to do more.
“About half of Americans (52%) say it is more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights; nearly as many (47%) say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.”