Garen Wintemute at the University of California, Davis has done several studies relating to so-called "Saturday night specials" or "junk" guns.  Wintemute's first accomplishment was labeling the now famous "Ring of Fire" in the Los Angeles outskirts.  He eventually decided that a gun could not be called "the gun of choice" for criminals unless he could show that certain guns were used in crime at a rate disproportionately high, in relation to the rate at which the guns are possessed by the general public.  This basic assumption was incorrect.

He did finally prove that, among handguns seized by California police in connection with crimes, the portions of several handgun models made by "Ring of Fire" companies, in relation to the numbers sold, were about three times higher than the portions for other guns.  It is unfortunate that a lot of taxpayer money had to be spent to determine what should be obvious to anyone.  See why it is that Wintemute proved essentially nothing.

The unfortunate consequence of this bad research, and gun controllers spreading the resultant misinformation, is that politicians are heading toward penalizing poor people by making handguns more expensive both by banning economical handguns and by running California gun makers out of business.  Such a "junk law" was already passed in California during the 1999 legislative session.

One of the problems with the aforementioned studies is the fact that they do not determine how many of the "crimes" were otherwise law-abiding people carrying guns to protect themselves even though the jurisdiction in which they live makes it illegal for them to protect themselves.  Many of the "crimes" for which handguns are confiscated by authorities are people who have decided they are better off to try to protect themselves even if that makes them a criminal since the police can't protect them and have no legal obligation to do so.

The earlier of the studies were done without regard to sex of the subjects.  The women among them would artificially increase the proportion who acquired cheap handguns because the guns are small and light and because women don't care that the gun will wear out after a relatively small number of shots, since they expect that they will not fire the gun except in the emergency & for a little practice.

In performing studies it is part of the standard practice to control (compensate) for what are called "demographic" factors, which include: age, sex, race, and income level.  This was done in these studies, except for income level.  There was no control for income level because doing so would have resulted in no difference between criminals buying cheap guns and others buying cheap guns.  Such dishonesty is typical of anti-gun "research" by people who want to prove guns bad rather than find truth.  True research is done by people who go into it with an open mind.

After the "criminal gun" studies, wintemute did a government-funded study that determined that people who have been convicted of certain misdemeanors, although legally eligible to buy handguns, are disproportionately likely to someday do something criminal (so that another "reasonable" gun control might be proposed).  Too bad about the money spent, and the fact that the gun controllers are using the results to try to disqualify even more people from acquiring handguns.  The result was obvious (without doing a study) to any qualified criminologist.  People who have misdemeanor arrests tend strongly to be prople who are disadvantaged (poor people, black people, hispanics, and children raised in one-parent broken homes) and the disadvantaged tend strongly to do various crimes.  Of course, the findings about people with misdemeanor convictions would also apply to people with simple arrests (no conviction) and "detentions," so similar restrictions can later be proposed about these categories of people if the gun controllers get what they want about misdemeanor convictions.  And these policies will simply serve to victimize the poor some more.

Check Guns, Germs and Science: Public Health Approaches to Gun Control by David Kopel for further info about Wintemute's bias and advocacy in research.