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Disrupting Illegal Firearms Markets in Boston: The Effects of Operation Ceasefire on the Supply of New Handguns to Criminals

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 4 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2005 Pages: 717-748
Anthony A. Braga; Glenn L. Pierce
Date Published
November 2005
32 pages

This study examined the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts to interrupt the supply of new handguns to criminals in Boston through Operation Ceasefire.


The abundant availability of firearms in American society allows juveniles and other prohibited persons to obtain guns through a variety of means. Controlling the ownership and availability of guns in the United States has been a hotly debated topic and has spurred the development of a number of gun violence intervention projects. One initiative in Boston, Operation Ceasefire, focused on ending the illegal diversion of new handguns from retail sources. The current study evaluated the effectiveness of Operation Ceasefire by examining the numbers of new handguns recovered from crimes following the intervention. Methodology involved a one-group time-series design in which ATF firearms trace data were used to measure the percentage of recovered new handguns in Boston over the study period. Results of ordinary least-squares (OLS) linear regression analyses indicated that Operation Ceasefire’s focus on retail diversion was associated with a decrease in the percentage of new handguns recovered by Boston police. Policy implications are discussed and include the need to develop strategic enforcement programs that target the illegal diversion of new guns from primary markets. Figures, tables, footnotes, and references