Two groups of inner-city male youth were surveyed regarding the means they reported for acquiring guns.
The participants included 765 male high school students from 10 high schools in different cities and 835 male inmates incarcerated in 7 facilities for serious felony offenses. The youths were all under age 21. Both groups reported high levels of gun possession and gun carrying, especially the inmate group. The main means of acquisition were street sources from whom illegal purchases were made, followed closely by family and friends from whom they purchased or borrowed the guns. Other means were mentioned less often; these varied from stealing to purchasing from retail outlets. Findings suggested that neither point-of-sale legislation nor more punitive sanctions would deter these youths from acquiring firearms. Instead, a comprehensive strategy should include the disruption of street-level gun markets, combined with legal and educational programs that discourage the transfer of guns to youths by family and friends. Tables and 29 references (Author abstract modified)