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Where do criminals get guns?

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GREENSBORO, NC --- The Greensboro Police Department takes in hundreds of guns every year; they are hard to trace; and they commonly arrive in the hands of criminals after being purchased by qualified buyers, a Greensboro detective said Thursday.

The Greensboro PD's evidence warehouse takes in about 700 guns each year.

For 2012 to date, the department is below that average, having added 616 guns to the evidence lockup.

Detective Jason Warren said guns are hard to trace once they are passed from the original buyer.

"Most of the time that fire arm has changed hands multiple times. Sometimes through sales. Sometimes through theft," Warren said.

"Generally most of these crime guns that we cover, there's a significant period of time from the date of purchase to the crime and therefore it almost becomes untraceable."

Detective Warren said many of the guns go directly from legitimate buyers to unqualified buyers in what's called a straw purchase.

"What we call a straw purchase is where an individual uses someone else to purchase a firearm for them," Warren said.

Warren said that's the most common way criminals get guns. It's a federal crime, but it can also be lucrative for the gun purchaser, Warren said.

He said it would be tough to ensure that those who shouldn't have guns don't get them, but he said its always a good idea for gun owners to keep detailed records of the guns they own.

"It will make it easier for us to track and prosecute those. I don't know if it will keep them from getting guns or not. That's a question I'm not sure I could answer," Warren said.