Adding to the complexity of the gun-control debate, a new study suggests that guns make their way into the hands of criminals partly because arms manufacturers don't use secure distribution channels for their products.
Kevin D. Bradford, an associate professional specialist in marketing at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, led the study of how guns were used in violent crimes and what kinds of safeguards gun manufacturers had in place for distribution.
“The gun industry is cloaked in secrecy,” Bradford said, “We found that 1 percent of gun dealers are responsible for 45 to 60 percent of guns involved in crimes. These dealers divert new guns [that are] intended for responsible owners to those [people] that gun restrictions are meant to keep away from the weapons.”
Bradford’s research found that guns run through a secure distribution channel are less likely to be used in violent crimes. Yet, many gun manufacturers don’t take measures to safeguard distribution. Bradford believes that requiring such measures, such as distributor background checks, might help curb some of the gun violence occurring in the United States.
“When manufacturers implement safeguards in their distribution channels, their guns are not used as often in crime,” he says. “If those marketing principles were put in place, dealers would be more discouraged from selling guns to the wrong people.”
Bradford believes that gun manufacturers should be held to the same level of accountability as their counterparts in other industries.
"If we can hold Hasbro accountable for choking hazards for children, it seems reasonable that we should be able to hold gun manufacturers accountable for their intermediaries who distribute to criminals," Bradford says.