Combating Crime Guns

Why are Crime Guns an Issue?

The majority of gun dealers in this country are responsible and sell guns according to federal and state law. A small minority of gun dealers, however, supply the criminal market. About 5% of gun dealers are responsible for about 90% of recovered crime guns.

The rate of federal violations for this small number of irresponsible dealers is more than double that of the overall industry rate; 86% of dealers do not have even a single crime gun derived from their business in a given year. But the small percentage of dealers that do have a disproportionate impact on the proliferation of crime guns on America’s streets.

Only a small percentage of gun dealers are cited for violations or face consequences for their actions. From October 2016 to October 2017, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) inspected only 11,000 of the over 130,000 federal firearms licensees in the United States. The ATF cited nearly 6,000 for violations of law, yet revoked the licenses of less than 1% of them.

What is the Combating Crime Guns Initiative?

With staffed programs in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Oakland, California; and Los Angeles, California, Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative aims to reduce gun violence in impacted communities by stemming the flow of crime guns into those communities, frequently from dealers outside their city or even their own state.

Strategically, the Combating Crime Guns Initiative focuses on the irresponsible actions of the upstream source of crime guns rather than the individuals that perpetuate crime.

We rely on a three-pronged strategy: Educate; Identify; Reform.

Educate: Most of the cities most impacted by gun violence do not have many federally licensed gun dealers within their city limits. Instead, they sit outside the communities that are most affected, frequently in less diverse and more affluent suburbs, and profit off of irresponsible or illegal sales that drive dozens of guns into cities.

Identify: It's critical to identify the irresponsible dealers that are enabling the proliferation of crime guns. Publishing trace reports at the local and the state level that name dealers is essential for this identification. Both law enforcement and elected officials are necessary partners in making trace reports that identify dealers available to the public. Publicly available data is essential to drive meaningful change, as it allows cities, counties, and states to work together to develop strategies that will address a root cause of gun violence by addressing bad dealers. Through working to convene groups, Brady can act as a conduit for local agencies to share best practices and encourage a comprehensive approach to targeting the source of crime guns.

Reform: Signs of success include greater public awareness about the source of crime guns, more prosecutions of irresponsible dealers and straw purchasers, gun dealers adopting the Brady Code of Conduct, local legislators passing enforceable legislation around dealer licensing and trace report requirements, and ultimately fewer gun injuries and deaths from violent crime.