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Federal figures shed light on Oklahoma gun trends

A display of rifles for sale at an Oklahoma City gun store, Friday, June 17, 2016. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]
A display of rifles for sale at an Oklahoma City gun store, Friday, June 17, 2016. [THE OKLAHOMAN ARCHIVES]

Of the more than 1,700 guns traced in Oklahoma in 2016, more than half of them were pistols, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives reported.

Not all firearms used in crimes are traced, and not all firearms traced were used in crimes.

Tulsa was the top recovery city with 416 found and traced. Oklahoma City had only 245 traces, and Okmulgee was in third place with 168. Muskogee and Edmond also had more than 100 gun traces each.

Tracing firearms can sometimes be tricky, Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes said.

"Oklahoma is a state of non-registry," he said. "After you sell it, it's never registered again. You have to keep good records."

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, 1,731 guns were traced in Oklahoma. Of those, 868 were pistols and 228 were revolvers. The most popular caliber of firearm traces was 9 mm, followed closely by .22-caliber. Rounding out the top five were .40-caliber, .45-caliber and .380.

Nearly 500 rifles and shotguns were recovered, but so were 14 derringers.

"There's a lot of weapons on the streets, legal and illegal, but I'm still a firm believer in the Second Amendment," Clabes said. "It's the person that commits the crime."

In 730 instances, law enforcement agencies request gun traces after a person was found to be in possession of a weapon, making it the leading factor that led to trace requests. Firearms under investigation, found firearms and weapons offenses also prompted about 550 of the traces.

Possession of drugs led to 212 traces, more than twice that of weapons used in homicides. Of those, 87 were traced in 2016.

"A high percentage of the weapons we find used in crimes are stolen. Most of them are convicted felons, so they can't legally possess a firearm, so the only way they can do it is to possess it illegally," Clabes said.

Of the 1,162 gun traces in which investigators were able to find out where the gun was originally purchased, 23 percent of them came from 38 other states, while 891 guns traced in Oklahoma were purchased inside state lines.

Outside of Oklahoma, the most popular source states were Texas, with 48, and a total of 39 traced firearms came from Arkansas and 23 from Kansas. Aside from bordering states, more guns came from California and Florida than any other state, according to the ATF.

The most common age group of gun possessors was 31 to 40, but 25 to 30 and over 50 age ranges came close. Only 17 of the traced guns were in the hands of people 17 and younger. The average national possessor was 35 years old, and 38 years old in the state of Oklahoma.

More than half of the traced firearms were found more than three years later. The average time of recovery was 9.54 years, just under the national average of 9.79 years.

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