City Paper’s interest in finding out where guns involved in local homicides and possessed by minors came from was spurred by similar campaigns around the country. One of the most well known is the “Where did the gun come from?” campaign led by Citizens for Safety, in Boston, which was launched in 2006.

“We wanted to popularize what we thought was an important missing question,” says Nancy Robinson, Citizens for Safety’s executive director. “Where does a 15-year-old get a gun in the first place? No one was asking that.”

As a result of its campaign, the organization discovered that straw purchasers — people legally able to purchase firearms who buy them for people who aren’t — account for almost 50 percent of trafficking investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. With this information, the group launched a program to target female straw purchasers. Robinson says gun violence in Boston has decreased as a result.

“The more information you have about crime-gun sources, the more effective you can be about shutting them down,” says Robinson. “We have to be armed with the right information about how these guns are winding up in the hands of 14-, 15-, 16-year-old shooters.”

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