Putting Guns Back Into Criminals’ Hands
Section Two: Recidivist Crimes Committed by Felons Granted Relief From Disability

ATF estimates that for those granted relief from 1985 to 1989, 47 went on to again commit crimes. The recidivism rate–overall–for this five year period was 2.6 percent. Those most recently granted relief, not surprisingly, have the lowest recidivist rates, while those granted relief earlier in the decade–with more time to once again commit a crime–have the highest rates (see II-1 below).

Recidivist crimes that those granted relief were subsequently arrested for included: attempted murder; criminal attempted rape; first degree sexual assault; abduction-kidnapping; child molestation; illegal possession and sale of a machine gun; trafficking in cocaine, LSD, and PCP; and illegal firearms possession or carrying.

The severity of the original crimes of conviction compared with subsequent crimes committed effectively illustrate the futility in attempting to predict future criminal behavior based on a felon’s criminal past.

Charts II-2 through II-5 list for the years 1985 through 1988 the 47 recidivists of the relief from disability program that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is aware of. For each year the original crime of conviction with date is listed along with the subsequent recidivist crime. For the majority of recidivist crimes, ATF is not aware of the final disposition of the case following arrest. For these cases the term “no disposition listed” is used. In addition, if a crime is not a felony, or is pleaded down to a non-felony conviction, the recidivist would still be able to keep his guns. The information was obtained by the Violence Policy Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

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