Prof. Heads RAND Study on Ammunition Sales

A study released on Oct. 5 by the RAND Corporation confirms that, within a two-month span, at least 52 criminals in the Los Angeles area were able to illegally purchase 10,500 rounds of ammunition from local businesses.
The RAND study was part of a larger study of illegal gun markets in Los Angeles, which has one of the most stringent gun policies in the state, along with San Francisco and Oakland.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, reveals that criminals were able to purchase ammunition in 10 of the 13 businesses that sell guns to the general public. These 52 people were previously convicted for felonies, both gun related and completely non-related, such as drug possession.
It is standard practice that weapon purchasers must not only show ID, but also leave a thumbprint and go through a background check with a three-day waiting period.
The study also found that six-and -a-half percent of people who purchased guns had criminal records, although their criminal activities did not prevent them from buying ammunition. However, two-and-a- half percent of those who purchased ammunition were convicted of felonies.
The problem, however, which this study addressed, is that although these strict gun policies are in place, many times, no one follows up on exactly who is purchasing ammunition.
George Tita, a professor of criminology, law, and society at UC Irvine and an expert on public policy, headed this study, which he hopes will spark debate on the fallacies of background checks for the purchase of ammunition.
Before working at UC Irvine, Tita worked exclusively for the RAND Corporation as a policy analyst. During that time he oversaw a project that focused on gun-violence reduction in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, also funded by the National Institute of Justice. This current Rand study is a continuation of that interest in gun -related violence in Los Angeles.
‘This study will help us see whether or not enforcement of this [more stringent background checks for ammunition] would net people who shouldn’t be buying ammo,’ Tita said. ‘In order to have effective policy, you have to limit access to both the gun and the bullet.’
According to Tita, the study was not meant to serve as a vehicle of enforcement but rather as research with the sole purpose of being informative. He stressed the need for this study and other ones like it to remain independent.
Of all of the cases that were looked at, 97 percent of people surveyed were deemed to be legal purchasers while the remaining 3 percent fell into the category of criminals