Washington, D.C., May 23, 2019 — Yesterday, Congress’s gun violence prevention majority continued to live up to its promises to the American people as the House Appropriations Committee authorized increased funding to combat crime guns in our country. Led by Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-15), the Committee provided $1.4 billion to the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) - an increase of more than $122 million from FY19 - to improve the agency’s oversight of Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and operations.
Brady, working with Chairman Serrano and Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), pushed for increased funding for the ATF, including for additional Industry Operations Inspectors (IOIs). These inspectors ensure gun dealers are operating properly and within the law - just as other industries are inspected for public health and safety purposes. Regular inspections of gun dealer records and inventories are an existing requirement that ATF has been unable to fulfill due to outrageous budget cuts spurred by the gun lobby over the last few decades.
Brady VP of Policy Christian Heyne stated,
“For too long, the ATF has been operating with one hand tied behind their backs in their efforts to keep crime guns off of our streets. This is a strong step towards finally providing the agents on the front lines of this fight with the resources they need to make a difference. We applaud Rep. Meng, Chairman Serrano, and the House Appropriations Committee for this important effort, and we look forward to working with the full House and Senate to ensure the funding’s inclusion in the final federal budget.”
Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-15) stated,
“We ask a tremendous amount from our law enforcement agents - the least we can do is give them the support and resources they need to properly do their jobs. This funding will greatly increase ATF’s capacity to carry out their duties and to combat crime guns at the source. Brady’s efforts were crucial in seeing through this increase, and I’m grateful for their work on this issue.”
Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06) stated,
“Ensuring the safety of the public should be at the top of our agenda, and it is of the utmost importance to fully fund law enforcement agencies working to do so. Brady has played an instrumental role in elevating the issue of crime guns and the difficulties facing ATF, and they were of tremendous help in shaping this important request. Gun dealers who are knowingly breaking the law need to be held accountable, and I am firmly committed to ensuring ATF has every resource necessary to do their jobs.”
ATF's inspections are critical to preventing bad gun dealers from profiting from illegal or negligent practices. However, the ATF inspector program has been woefully underfunded for years. ATF's stated goal is to inspect all FFLs every 3-5 years. With its current staffing levels, it is only able to inspect FFLs every 10-12 years.
The latest data shows that about 90% of crime guns come from about 5% of gun dealers. There are many ways that these guns make their way out into the criminal market from gun dealers, including straw purchases, sales to prohibited purchasers, and guns "lost or stolen" from FFL inventories. Between 2004 and 2011 over 174,000 guns were reported lost or stolen by FFLs, according to the ATF.
These inspectors will make an outsized impact in states that already have good gun laws by helping to prevent out of state FFLs from flooding their streets with illegal guns.
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.