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The Editors

What We Don’t Know About Guns Might Be Killing Us

How do criminals get their guns? Are there observable patterns to gun crime? Who is at the greatest risk of injury, or causing injury to others, from firearm use? Which gun-safety practices are most effective at preventing accidental injury?

The answers to these and other basic questions remain difficult and obscure in part thanks to a senseless ban, on the books for a decade, that limits research on gun violence and denies researchers and even police and prosecutors access to federal gun data. The laws prohibit the public disclosure of a gun’s sales history, make that data inadmissible in court, require the Justice Department to destroy background-check records within 24 hours and prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring gun dealers to check their inventories annually for theft.