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Abstract

This empirical legal study examines Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) trace data from crime guns seized in Mexico and traced back to their states of origin in the United States. It uses Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regression to analyze the relationship between U.S. states’ crime gun export rates to Mexico and state gun control laws. The presence of four state gun control laws—(1) limiting multiple sales, (2) requiring background checks for secondary transfers, (3) prosecuting straw purchasers, and (4) restricting the sale of assault weapons—significantly reduces a state’s export rate of crime guns to Mexico as compared to states that have none of these laws in place. This relationship persists and is significant even when controlling for the state’s distance from the border with Mexico.

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