Date Thesis Awarded

4-2018

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Public Policy

Advisor

Joel Schwartz

Committee Members

Paul Manna

Clay Clemens

Abstract

Gun policy is a complicated, polarizing issue in the United States. My study focuses on Federal Firearms Licensees’ opinions towards policies designed to address illegal firearms trafficking. I chose Virginia because its high rate of private firearms ownership, large number of Federal Firearms Licensees, or FFLs, and the state’s relatively lax gun regulations render firearms trafficking a relevant issue in the state. Virginia’s lack of regulation on private gun sales both prompts gun trafficking and economically impacts the state’s FFLs. Thus, Virginian FFLs’ opinions regarding potential gun laws are important because of their niche in the market. To collect my data, I surveyed 580 Virginian FFLs using an online gun brokers’ database. My questions focused on the FFLs’ perceptions of how these policies would impact their business. I hypothesized that FFLs may favor increased regulations on private sales of firearms to equalize the costs of production between them and private sellers and collectors. My results indicated that approximately a quarter of respondents perceived an economic incentive to favor greater regulation of private sales, including universal background checks. I discuss research design limitations, future research suggestions, and policy recommendations.

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