Firearms Trafficking

Archived Information prior to Boston Gun Project

Since 1995, the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management has been working closely with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to analyze illegal gun markets in order to develop strategic market disruption interventions. The Program has also worked with the Boston Police Department (BPD); the Boston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and other federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to craft, implement, and evaluate an interagency problem-solving strategy to reduce youth violence in Boston (the Boston Gun Project). This National Institute of Justice-sponsored project demonstrated that developing knowledge on the illicit firearms market is important in developing effective crime control, especially for youth. In particular, the research pointed to the importance of firearms trafficking without regard to whether these guns were being moved in or out of the state, and revealed the central importance of a flow of guns moving rapidly to the streets from retail sales (especially for guns recovered from gang members). The results of this body of work on illegal gun markets have been used to develop the Treasury Department's Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative. Anthony A. Braga and David M. Kennedy have also been instrumental in the production of numerous reports by ATF on illicit firearms trafficking that have been very influential in the national debate on appropriate gun control measures.

For more information, see the following resources:

Braga, Anthony A., Glenn L. Pierce, Jack McDevitt, Brenda J. Bond and Shea Cronin. “The Strategic Prevention of Gun Violence among Gang-Involved Offenders.” Justice Quarterly 25 no. 1 (March 2008): 132-162.

Braga, Anthony A. <"Gun Enforcement and Ballistic Imaging Technology in Boston" in ">Ballistic Imaging. Committee to Assess the Feasibility, Accuracy and Technical Capability of a National Ballistics Database. Daniel L. Cork, John E. Rolph, Eugene S. Meieran, and Carol V. Petrie, eds. National Academies Press, 2008.

Ridgeway, Greg, Glenn L. Pierce, Anthony A. Braga, George Tita, Garen Wintemute, Wendell Roberts.  Strategies for Disrupting Illegal Firearms Markets: A Case Study of Los Angeles. RAND Corporation, 2008.

Cook, Philip J., Jens Ludwig, Sudhir Venkatesh, and Anthony A. Braga. "Underground Gun Markets." The Economic Journal 117 (November 2007): F1-F29.

Tita, G. E., A. A. Braga, G. Ridgeway, G. L. Pierce. "The Criminal Purchase of Firearm Ammunition." Injury Prevention 12, no. 5 (October 2006).

Braga, Anthony A. and Glenn L. Pierce. "Disrupting Illegal Firearms Markets in Boston: The Effects of Operation Ceasefire on the Supply of New Handguns to Criminals." Criminology & Public Policy 4, no. 4 (November 2005).

Cook, Philip J., Jens Ludwig, Sudhir A. Venkatesh, and Anthony A. Braga. "Underground Gun Markets." NBER Working Paper 11737 (November 2005).

Cook, Philip J., Jens Ludwig, and Anthony A. Braga. "Criminal Records of Homicide Offenders." JAMA 294, no. 5 (August 3, 2005).

Braga, Anthony A. Gun Violence Among Serious Young Offenders. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Problem-Oriented Guides for Police: Problem Specific Guides no. 23 (2004).

Braga, Anthony A. and Glenn L. Pierce. "Linking Crime Guns: The Impact of Ballsitics Imaging Technology on the Productivity of the Boston Police Department's Ballistics Unit," Journal of Forensic Sciences 49, no. 4 (July 2004).

Pierce, Glenn L., Anthony A. Braga, Raymond R. Hyatt, Jr., and Christopher S. Koper. "Characteristics and Dynamics of Illegal Firearms Markets: Implications for a Supply-Side Enforcement Strategy." Justice Quarterly 21, no.2 (June 2004).

Braga, Anthony A. "Serious Youth Gun Offenders and the Epidemic of Youth Violence in Boston." Journal of Quantitative Criminology 19, no. 1 (2003).

Braga, Anthony A., Philip J. Cook, David M. Kennedy, and Mark H. Moore. "The Illegal Supply of Firearms." Crime and Justice: A Review of Research 29 (2002).

Cook, Philip J., Mark H. Moore, and Anthony A. Braga. "Gun Control." In Crime: Public Policies for Crime Control, 2d ed., ed. James Q. Wilson and Joan Petersilia. San Francisco: Institute for Contemporary Studies Press (2002).

Braga, Anthony A. "More Gun Laws or More Gun Law Enforcement?" Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 20, no. 3 (Summer 2001).

Cook, Philip J., and Anthony A. Braga. "Comprehensive Firearms Tracing: Strategic and Investigative Uses of New Data on Firearms Markets." University of Arizona Law Review 43, no. 2 (Summer 2001). (see a draft of the paper)

Braga, Anthony A., and David M. Kennedy. "The Illicit Acquisition of Firearms by Youth and Juveniles." Journal of Criminal Justice 29, no. 5 (2001).

Braga, Anthony A., David M. Kennedy, Anne M. Piehl, and Elin J. Waring. Reducing Gun Violence: The Boston Gun Project's Operation Ceasefire. National Institute of Justice Research Report (September 2001).

Braga, Anthony A., and David M. Kennedy. "Gun Shows and the Illegal Diversion of Firearms." The Georgetown Public Policy Review 6, no. 1 (Fall 2000).

Kennedy, David M., Anne M. Piehl, and Anthony A. Braga. "Gun Buy-Backs: Where Do We Stand and Where Do We Go?" In Under Fire: Gun Buy-Backs, Exchanges, and Amnesty Programs, ed. Martha R. Plotkin. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum (1996).

Kennedy, David M., Anne M. Piehl, and Anthony A. Braga. "Youth Violence in Boston: Gun Markets, Serious Youth Offenders, and a Use-Reduction Strategy." Law and Contemporary Problems 59, no. 1 (Winter 1996).

ATF Reports:


Fox Butterfield. "Study Exposes Illegal Traffic in New Guns." The New York Times, p. A1 (February 21, 1999).

Peter Herman. "Criminals Easily Get New Guns." The Baltimore Sun, p. 1A. (February 23, 1999).