Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative Analyzed Previously Unreleased Data From ATF, Resulting In The Most Comprehensive List Of America's Top Dealers Of Crime Guns Made Public In The Last 20 Years.

Washington, D.C., February 24, 2024 – Leading researchers with Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative have today released a new report detailing their findings from data provided via Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The data pertains to ATF’s Demand Letter 2 (DL2) Program, which puts firearm dealers on notice if a large quantity of firearms sold in their store are recovered by law enforcement in connection with a crime. Dealers under this program are subject to additional reporting requirements from ATF. The report was released in an exclusive with NBC Nightly News.

For over 20 years, ATF has cited the gun industry-sponsored Tiahrt Amendment as a barrier to publicly releasing data about the largest crime gun dealers. Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative identified the DL2 letters as a publicly available source of such information and in certain cases was able to use court filings and public reporting to retrace specific crime guns to the stores receiving letters. This is the most comprehensive list of the largest dealers of crime guns nationally that has been released since Tiahrt was passed.

To receive a DL2, dealers had to have sold at least 25 guns that were recovered in a crime during the past calendar year and have a low “time-to-crime.” “Time-to-crime” is the amount of time between the retail sale and recovery by law enforcement. ATF considers a low time-to-crime as a potential indicator of gun trafficking.

The more than 1,500 dealers identified in the report represent only 2% of America’s gun dealers. Similarly, the last time national trace data was available, it showed that only about 5% of dealers transferred 90% of recovered crime guns. The report finds while repeat offenders are likely to reappear on the list, weak gun laws also have a tremendous impact state-by-state.

“Americans deserve to know about the sources of firearms that are driving crime in their communities,” said Josh Scharff, General Counsel & Senior Director of Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative. “The uniquely American public health epidemic of gun violence should be treated like any other health emergency. We need to understand its sources to find a cure. In this case, a small minority of gun dealers – and the manufacturers who do not ensure their firearms are being sold responsibly – are at the root of gun trafficking.
“American communities that are flooded with crime guns deserve accountability from dealers that profit off of risky sales,” said Tess Fardon, Senior Counsel of Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative. “There is no accountability without transparency. This type of information should not be kept hidden from researchers, journalists, and ultimately the American public.”

The report finds that some of the largest chains of retail dealers did not have a single store in the program, while other chains with documented risky business practices had over half — and in one case two-thirds — of their locations qualify. Pawnbrokers are far more likely to get DL2s than retail dealers. Further, most dealers in the program aren’t part of large or mid-sized chains. The DL2 for one of these dealers, Clyde Armory — which belongs to Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA)— was previously uncovered by Brady and featured in reporting from The New York Times. The trends uncovered in this comprehensive report underscore the vital need for increased ATF oversight and for a repeal of gun industry special protections – like the Tiahrt Amendment – allowing dealers to operate in the shadows.

The report is part of Brady’s Gun Store Transparency Project, the largest searchable database of inspection reports of gun dealers. Nearly 200 of these DL2 dealers have inspection reports available through the project.

Brady’s Gun Dealer Code of Conduct was recently featured in reporting on DL2s by USA Today.


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