Washington, D.C., February 7, 2023 - Last week, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a comprehensive report on the proliferation of crime guns from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), detailing data, information, and analysis regarding crime guns recovered by law enforcement between 2017 and 2021. The report showed alarming increases in crime gun recoveries and traces, both in the U.S. and for guns originally purchased domestically but recovered in foreign countries

Read Brady's report summary here.

Brady President Kris Brown said:

“This report demonstrates the urgent need for strong supply-side gun safety policies. While the data paints a troubling picture of gun trafficking and violence in our communities, it also provides invaluable insight that can be used to develop targeted strategies to prevent gun trafficking and violence at their sources. We must do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and prevent the tragedy that gun violence brings to communities across the country.”

Among the report’s findings:

  • Law enforcement agencies submitted over 1.9 million crime gun trace requests to ATF between 2017 and 2021, with the number of traces submitted annually increasing by over a third during this period.
    • The largest single-year increase occurred between 2020 and 2021, when requests rose by 14%.

  • The percentage of crime guns recovered with a time-to-crime (TTC) of three years or less increased by 12% from 2019 to 2021.

  • Traced crime guns were disproportionately bought and possessed by those ages 18-24 and 25-34.

  • 72% of traced crime guns were recovered in the same state in which they were acquired from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL).

  • The volume of crime gun trace requests rose 64% between 2011 and 2021, but ATF’s National Tracing Center’s (NTC) annual budget allocations and overall staffing level notably decreased during this period.

Read Brady's report summary here.

The report also highlighted the significant rise in "ghost gun" recoveries, and the data broken down by state and major cities illustrated the effectiveness of strong state gun dealer regulations in preventing gun trafficking and crime.

For a detailed, state-level case study about the sources and paths of crime guns, read Brady’s recently released report Uncovering the Truth About Crime Guns in Pennsylvania, an analysis of the largest gun trace dataset available to the public in two decades.

Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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