may be willing to pay a substantial price premium to obtain a gun more rapidly, thus increasing the value of operating in a location that is known to be rich in firearms acquisition opportunities.
Gun shows are potential specific places where criminals acquire guns. Gun shows may be especially attractive venues for the illegal diversion of firearms due to the large number of shows per year, the size of the shows, the large volume of transactions, and the advertising and promotion of these events. Gun shows provide a venue for large numbers of secondary market sales by unlicensed dealers; they are exempted from the federal transaction requirements that apply to licensed dealers who also are vendors at these events. The Police Foundation (1996) estimated, from the National Survey of Private Gun Ownership, that gun shows were the place of acquisition of 3.9 percent of all guns and 4.5 percent of handguns. The 1991 BJS survey of state prison inmates suggests that less than 1 percent of handgun using inmates personally acquired their firearm at a gun show (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1993). However, these data did not determine whether a friend, family member, or street dealer purchased the gun for the inmate at a gun show. While it is not known what proportion of crime guns come from gun shows or what proportion of gun show dealers act criminally, research suggests that criminals do illegally acquire guns at these venues through unlicensed dealers, corrupt licensed dealers, and straw purchasers (Braga and Kennedy, 2000). Certain states specifically regulate firearms sales at gun shows; otherwise, there have been no systematic attempts to implement place-based interventions to disrupt illegal transactions at gun shows.
Note that the market is partly a metaphor. For example, many guns are acquired through nonmarket activities, gifts or loans from friends with no expectation of a specific payment in return. These may take place “in the shadow” of the market, so that the terms are influenced by the costs of acquiring guns in formal transactions; when guns are more expensive to acquire in the market, owners are more reluctant to lend them. However there is no empirical basis for assessing how close these links are. An additional complication is that guns are highly differentiated and there is no single price. No agency or researcher has systematically collected price data over a sufficient length of time to determine the correlation of prices across gun types over time and thus whether they are appropriately treated as a single market or even a set of linked markets.
One value of this approach (demand, supply, and substitution) is in developing intermediate measures of whether an intervention might influence the desired outcome. For example, intensified police enforcement