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Street Value 

Tighter Gun Regulation Drives Up Price of Gang Guns, Study Finds

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 8, 2018) — A new study led by the School of Criminal Justice’s David Hureau uncovers the factors that influence the price of street guns.


The study found that illegal handguns in Boston sell for about twice the legal market price. 

Hureau, an assistant professor whose research focuses on urban violence, social inequity and criminal justice policy, worked with criminologist Anthony Braga of Northeastern University on the study, which looked at the underground gun market in Boston. It was published in the journal Criminology in July.

Massachusetts has among the strictest gun laws in the country, and is one of the few states that also regulate second-hand gun sales. In Boston, most gun violence is concentrated in a few high-risk areas, and these “hot-spots” coincide with drug and gang activity.

By recruiting respondents within the gang network, field researchers were able to gather detailed data on buying and selling guns on the black market, including price, source and preferred style of gun. They also traced the origin of more than 2,000 handguns Boston police had recovered during crime investigations.

Fieldwork for the study was conducted in 2014 when Hureau was a Ph.D. student at Harvard University. Subsequent data analysis revealed that most illegal guns sell for about twice what they would sell for on the legal market, and that higher-caliber semiautomatic pistols are most coveted on the street. Gang guns in Boston are most likely to be older guns originally sold in New Hampshire, Maine or the Southern states along the 1-95 corridor.

You can read Hureau and Braga’s study here. Buzzfeed published a story on the study in its science section. 

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