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October 2, 1996

Effectiveness of Legislation Limiting Handgun Purchases-Reply

Author Affiliations

Center to Prevent Handgun Violence Washington, DC

JAMA. 1996;276(13):1036. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540130034020

In Reply.  —Dr Blackman questions our use of available data generally and of the firearms trace database specifically, suggesting that problems with the data undermine our conclusions. We strongly disagree.To evaluate the impact of Virginia's 1-gun-a-month law on gun trafficking patterns, we needed to collect data on 4 variables: when and where guns traced as part of a criminal investigation were purchased, and when and where they were recovered by the police. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms collects this information and maintains it in the Firearms Trace Database. The fact that the data were collected to aid in police investigations is irrelevant.The use of available data can, however, limit the depth of the analysis. As Blackman suggests, we cannot determine which guns in our sample were obtained as part of a multiple purchase, although he is wrong to imply that our conclusions are, therefore, without merit. We