Research shows how some criminals get legal firearms - KCTV5

Research shows how some criminals get legal firearms

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There are many examples of legally purchased guns winding up in the hands of criminals. (KCTV5) There are many examples of legally purchased guns winding up in the hands of criminals. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

It happens all the time, a legally purchased and registered gun gets into the hands of criminals.

KCTV5 News asked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to help us track when a good gun goes bad. The ATF shared their research.

There are many examples of legally purchased guns winding up in the hands of criminals.

One occurred in Sept. 2014 when five people were attacked in a south Kansas City neighborhood. All five would die from their injuries, some were shot.

Police quickly honed in on Brandon Howell, a convicted felon who owned a powerful Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun.

Howell legally bought the gun before he went to prison in Jan. 2000. He should have surrendered the weapon to police, but he didn't. It was 14 years from the 'time to crime' for the gun.

The average time to crime in Missouri is eight and a half years. In Kansas, it's nine years.

 "We need to know where these guns are coming from," ATF spokesman John Ham said.

Ham tracks the guns used in Kansas City's crimes. His data paints a very specific picture for the metro.

"Much of our gun crime is home-grown, unfortunately," Ham said.

The research tells investigators guns used in crimes are often stolen. Just this month, there were guns stolen from a safe in Pettis County with guns passed down to the owner from his father.

And in Independence, a gun with punisher grips was stolen out of a Chevy Blazer in a parking lot.

"The criminals aren't particular picky. Any gun they can get their hands on to do the job is fine with them," Ham said.

Because there are so many local guns, criminals have plenty of opportunities to steal them.

It's a story line Kansas City Mayor Sly James would like to change.

"Having the highest gun ownership rate in the world should result in the lowest crime rate in the world, but exactly the opposite is true," James said.

So, how do you stop the flow of guns to criminals? Not everyone thinks restrictions are the answer.

"It's going to be like alcohol. They tried to outlaw alcohol and all did was make a lot of people seedier people rich," gunsmith Don Pind stated.

Clearly, there are no easy answers, only sobering statistics.

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