Special Report

28 Guns Used the Most to Commit Crimes in America

Gun violence is a growing public health crisis in the United States. A record-high 45,222 people were killed by guns nationwide in 2020. This figure includes over 19,000 murder victims.

While homicides are the most extreme examples of gun violence, among all gun-related crimes, they are only the tip of the iceberg. According to the FBI, there were over 100,000 cases of aggravated assault and 43,000 robberies carried out with a firearm nationwide in 2020. (Here is a look at America’s most dangerous states). 

Every firearm is a lethal weapon and in the wrong hands can be used to unlawfully kill or coerce. However, certain types of guns are far more likely to be used by criminals than others. 

Using gun tracing data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 24/7 Wall St. identified the firearm calibers most commonly used for crime in 2020. Our list includes rifle, handgun, and shotgun calibers and gauges, which are standardized measurements for bullet and ammunition sizes. 

Guns that are traced by the ATF are typically those found at crime scenes and either have been used, or are suspected to have been used, to commit a crime. Though it is important to note that not all firearms used in a crime are traced.

All told, the ATF traced neary 390,000 firearms nationwide in 2020. The vast majority of these firearms are chambered for rounds typically used by handguns, which are relatively easy to conceal. The handgun calibers on this list include .25, .35, and .380 – chambers commonly found in small, cheap firearms historically associated with criminality. 

Other firearm types that rank highly on this list include those that are widely popular with law-abiding gun enthusiasts and sports men and women, such as 12 gauge shotguns, .223 rifles, and 9mm handguns. (Here is a look at the 50 most popular guns in the world).

Click here to see the firearm calibers most commonly used for crime.

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