What is a Crime Gun?

A crime gun is a gun that has been recovered by law enforcement after being used in a crime, suspected of being used in a crime, or the possession of the gun itself may have been a crime.

Most crime guns start in the legal marketplace at a licensed dealer, and incredibly only 5% of gun dealers are responsible for 90% of recovered crime guns. Irresponsible, negligent, or reckless business practices by gun dealers are the root cause of crime guns.

Information about the sources of crime guns is not public, and the ATF inspected approximately 7% of federal firearms licensees each year (including only 12-13% of all dealers, pawnshops, and manufacturers). Although the ATF is supposed to prioritize high-risk gun dealers responsible for high numbers of crime guns, the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General found that there was no evidence showing this was the case.

The small number of irresponsible gun dealers that knowingly or negligently supply the gun violence epidemic are a focal point of the Combating Crime Guns Initiative. For too long our society’s focus has been almost exclusively on shooters and not on the suppliers of crime guns into urban communities across this country. This critical discrepancy has contributed to a racial disparity in who has faced the consequences for the nation’s gun violence epidemic.