Murder rates rose for the second consecutive year in Houston, TX, and 83 percent of those murders were committed with a firearm. To gain insight into why and how, one local news station decided to go right to the source of the problem.
To get our data, we sent surveys to every killer who used a gun to murder someone in Harris County since 2014. We wanted to know how they got their gun, what they paid, and how often, if ever, they went through a background check.
The information from the inmates tells a story most of us already know:
- 90 percent of those surveyed received their gun on the black market. They either traded goods for the firearm or a friend gave them the gun.
- 63 percent of the guns were stolen and the majority of them were given to the perpetrator for free.
- 90 percent of the surveyors weren’t eligible to legally buy a gun because of past criminal convictions.
- 100 percent of the surveyors concealed carry despite failing to have a CCW permit.
In Texas, a felon in possession of a firearm can serve 2 to 1- years in prison. But in Harris County, the average jail sentence for the offense is 3-and-a-half months.
It should be no surprise that criminals are buying guns on the unregulated market. But when asked, the convicted killers abc13 interviewed were all well aware of the gun laws. Many were previously convicted and knew they wouldn’t pass federally mandated background checks. Others suggested they would never put a family member in a position to buy a gun for them since the penalty for that so-called ‘straw purchase’ is severe.
Despite gun control laws that focus on expanded background checks and banning “assault weapons,” the survey results prove neither one of would have prevented these murderers from committing their crime.
When asked what can be done to keep guns off the streets, each criminal had different views.
“I feel guns is not the problem. People just need to respect each other, and stop been [sic] disrespectfully [sic]. Youngster in the hood need to listen when older people tellin them something. Guns WILL always be in the streets of H-town! Sorry to say that :(,” said 44-year-old Cedric Jones.
“Nothing, no matter the efforts the efforts of law enforcement along with laws, guns will always be available to people on the black market,” responded 46-year-old Rodney Rachal.