DOJ: Handguns Are the Weapon of Choice for Criminals


A January 2019 Department of Justice (DOJ) report shows handguns as the weapon of choice for prisoners incarcerated for using a gun in the commission of a crime.

The report, “Source and Use of Firearms Involved in Crimes: Survey of Prison Inmates, 2016,” presents information gathered during  face-to-face interviews with a cross-section of the nearly 300,000 prisoners who used guns in carrying out their crimes.

The report shows that “handguns were the most common type of firearm possessed by state and federal prisoners” at the time they committed their crimes. Roughly eighteen percent of state inmates used handguns and the percentage was the same for federal inmates.

The percentage of inmates who used a rifle of any kind was 1.4 percent of state inmates and 2 percent of federal inmates.

These DOJ findings undercut Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) push for a “assault weapons” ban, as the percentage of “assault weapon” usage would be even lower than the overall percentage for rifles in general.

In other words, in a world where handguns are the criminal’s firearm of choice–and a maximum of 2 percent of prisoners used a rifle in the commission of their crimes–Feinstein is pushing a ban on 205 commonly-owned semiautomatic rifles under the guise of fighting crime.

Larry Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs, talked to Breitbart News about the fact that Feinstein’s current gun control push is misplaced and will not deliver the safety that is being promised. He said:

Democrats in Congress have put forth an ambitious agenda on anti-gun legislation, including legislation we’ve seen introduced in the past. Those ideas are epitomized by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recurring Assault Weapons Ban. Her ban is a failed policy idea that does not offer anything to improve public safety. It is only designed to curb and eliminate rights of law-abiding firearms owners and Feinstein knows this.

Keane added, “Efforts would be better spent working for effective solutions to assist local law enforcement with the troubling trend of thefts and burglaries to keep firearms from being stolen and subsequently used in other crimes.”

To Keane’s point, the DOJ reports that 56 percent of prisoners stole their firearms, found them at crime scenes, or acquired them via the black market. Bans on certain categories of firearms will do nothing to impact criminals who acquire their firearms off the radar to begin with.

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at Sign up to get Down Range at


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