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  Jose, Houston, Texas
  Passing shot: A street arms dealer bares all
 
 
  US firearm deaths:

• More than 14,000 homicides were committed with firearms in the US in 1996.
• Of the dead, 68 were children below the age of four.
• More than 5,500 of those killed were aged between 15 and 24.
 
 
 
  Trading guns on America's streets

There are more than 200 million guns in private hands in America. More than all the guns of world's armies put together.

Most of the weapons are bought and sold legally from licensed gun-shops. But away from this legitimate trade there is a flourishing black market for firearms.

Jose, a young Texan, has grown up using guns on the street. He told the BBC World Service how life in and around cities like Houston can be dangerous.

He recalled the night an old acquaintance turned up drunk and started pushing him around. A few angry words turned into a few punches - then a full-scale shootout. The man produced a 45 Magnum pistol, shot at Jose but missed.

The man fled but a few minutes later Jose spotted him behind the house. Jose grabbed his own Kalashnikov automatic rifle.

He fired a few warning shots to scare his rival away. Unfortunately as the man fled he fired off a single shot, which ricocheted off the house and hit Jose in the left buttock. "Man, it hurt," he said, "and I've still got the bruise."

Jose bought his Kalashnikov for US$500 - it is leftover from his arms dealing days. He told how he traded guns on the street for several years, but he stopped doing it because it became too dangerous. "I saw a lot of people die over US$100."
 
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