In an October 2021 press conference, Rep. Jason Crow (CO-06) discusses his bill, the Firearms Retailer Code of Conduct Act of 2021, that sets new legal requirements for firearms retailers.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM
The diversion of firearms into the illegal market has the greatest impact on urban Black and brown communities. According to the most recent CDC data, 77% of all gun homicide victims are Black or Hispanic, and the repercussions of such violence stretch well beyond the victims themselves.
While uninterrupted cycles of violence and trauma contribute to the epidemic of gun violence, it is made worse by access to trafficked firearms sold by irresponsible gun dealers and their employees.
We know that these guns do not just simply appear in impacted communities — they first begin as legal firearms, sold by licensed gun dealers that are then funneled into the illegal market. Reckless dealers stuff their pockets while our communities suffer.
Currently, licensed firearm deals are not sufficiently regulated. There are no requirements under federal law that require gun dealers to adhere to specific safe business practices or implement minimum security standards to ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals. And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the sole federal agency with authority to oversee firearm dealers, does not have the will or the resources to adequately enforce existing law.
Federally licensed firearm dealers and their employees are the first line of defense to prevent the diversion of firearms into the criminal market.
Because gun traffickers and their suppliers often obtain firearms through straw purchases and theft, gun dealers that implement safe business practices can play a vital role.
Federal laws are needed to clearly define the role of gun dealers and their employees and assist them in identifying fraudulent or potentially unlawful firearms purchases. Gun dealers and their employees need to be held responsible for knowingly transferring firearms through fraudulent or unlawful sales, and for reporting suspected unlawful transfers to the proper authorities.
ABOUT THE Firearms Retailer Code of Conduct Act of 2021
The Firearms Retailer Code of Conduct Act of 2021 establishes business practices and certification requirements for gun dealers and their employees that are intended to curb the diversion of firearms into the illegal market. Among other things, the bill:
- Requires gun dealers and their employees to undergo training every two years to identify fraudulent or potentially unlawful firearms purchases;
- Instructs gun dealers and their employees to refuse the sale of firearms to straw purchasers, gun traffickers, intoxicated persons, or those at risk of harming themselves or others;
- Mandates the posting of notices indicating the signs of fraudulent or potentially unlawful firearms purchases and requires the display of contact information to report suspected illegal transactions
- Requires gun dealers to secure their firearms after close of business to prevent theft; and
- Requires that federally licensed firearms dealers maintain business and liability insurance.
Making these provisions law, provides necessary incentives to gun dealers — many of whom operate outside of the communities most impacted by everyday gun violence, frequently in less diverse and more affluent suburbs — to reduce gun trafficking.