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capet's avatar

How important are new guns to organized crime in North America?

Asked by capet (331points) 2 months ago

I keep reading two things (I can provide examples if needed). They both seem true to me and it also seems like most people agree with them.

1. There are tons and tons of guns in North America (example: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/fact-there-are-400-million-privately-owned-guns-us-72936). Many of them are owned by organized crime groups or are “available” to them through the secondary market (example: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/the-flow-of-guns-from-the-u-s-to-mexico-is-getting-lost-in-the-border-debate ; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2610592/ ; https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=11383063823953407989&hl=en&as_sdt=0,15).

2. North American organized crime groups obtain (often steal) and manufacture tons of new guns every year, many of them for their own use rather than resale (example: https://scholar.google.com/scholar?cluster=11383063823953407989&hl=en&as_sdt=0,15
; https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-11-03/ghost-guns-california-gun-shows-kits)
Assuming you agree with these, I’m wondering how they fit together.

More specifically, how important is the flow of new guns to organized crime groups? How much are they just diversifying their sourcing. How much do they really “need” all of the new guns to stay up-to-date or replace old stock, dispose of incriminating weapons, etc? How much is it just another revenue source? Is it even possible to get a good idea about this given the limited availability of information and the diversity of circumstances across the continent?

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4 Answers

Zaku's avatar

Depends on what you mean by “how important”.

But in general, I am confident that while new guns, especially new unregistered guns, are useful to organized crime, and enable violence that would be harder without them, they are mainly just practical details that affect efficiency, risk and profits somewhat. They are not “important” in the sense that they are essential, and they are also very very far away from being scarce.

As for your last question, it would be possible to get much information about guns in organized crime, but it is a complex subject and the questions you have may not already be neatly wrapped up in accurate unbiased articles that are framed in ways that are directly relevant to your questions.

kritiper's avatar

It’s very hard to wear out a gun so that they would have to be replace “old stock” with new guns.
Manufacturing their own guns doesn’t make any sense. There are so many guns, even cheaply made ones, I doubt guns would have to be made.
Selling said guns would probably as profitable as selling narcotics.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Part of the definition is “what is organized crime”?

If you mean traditional Mafia and that sort of group, I think that guns are far less important than they were 60 years ago. That group of organized crime, as I understand it, has moved to white collar and economic crimes, rather than the tawdry life of shoot-outs and gun battles for power.

On the other hand, if you mean street gangs that are largely in bigger cities (Bloods, Crips, Banditos, Wa Ching, and dozens of others), who are definitely blue collar in membership, then firearms are extremely important.

Define your demographic.

capet's avatar

Thanks @elbanditoroso! I’m interested in all different demographics, but more the “blue collar” organizations, especially the ones in Mexico.

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