MANATEE — The majority of guns illegally sold on the street come from an unlikely place: the law-abiding, well-meaning gun owner looking for self-protection — but who fails to secure their investment or know enough about their weapon to provide law enforcement with essential details should it be stolen.
A wave of violence such as the one gripping Manatee County, in the midst of a record number of homicides this year, can fuel a rush to purchase guns, experts say. And that puts communities in a vicious cycle:
Residents buy more guns because they're scared, which in turn means more guns for thieves to steal. And guns are a burglar's most prized item: They are in demand and have high value on the street.
"I always say violence begets violence," says Professor James Wright, University of Central Florida sociologist and author of dozens of studies on guns and gun violence. "The first thing people do when they hear about a rash of violence is go out and get a gun.
"The more guns you have in homes," Wright says, "the more guns you eventually have on the street."
Throughout last week, law enforcement and politicians warned that guns stolen in car and home burglaries are most likely the same weapons used in recent killings.
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