Most gun crimes go unreported in the United Kingdom, according to a study of data on firearms-related offences by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (CCJS).
Many victims, the study said, are reluctant to alert the police, and crimes missing from the official statistics may even include incidents where guns were fired, but which did not lead to injuries.
The CCJS, which is based at King's College, London, called on ministers to focus on social and economic solutions to gun crime.
The Daily Express quoted the report as saying that: "Given the frequently noted reluctance (often underpinned by fear of reprisals) of many gun crime-affected communities to provide evidence to the police, and the strong 'no grassing' conventions in gang cultures, it is likely that much gun crime - especially incidents involving only intimidation, or firearms discharges resulting in either no injuries or only minor injuries - goes unreported."
The Government's policy of introducing tough mandatory sentences may not prove an effective way of tackling gun crime, the report warned.
Report author Peter Squires, Professor of Criminology and Public Policy at Brighton University, said: "This report examines what we do and don't know about gun crime to establish a basis from which we can start asking the right questions and developing effective policies.