Reducing gun violence through supply-side solutions

We are focused on stopping the flow of crime guns into the most impacted communities and tackling racial injustice that increases violence. 

Our Combating Crime Guns program works to shift the burden of gun violence prevention efforts from the communities most impacted by gun violence to the suppliers of crime guns, including irresponsible gun industry businesses that prioritize profits over public safety. The communities most impacted, which are disproportionately Black and Brown, are too often expected to solve the gun violence crisis on their own while facing over-policing and over-incarceration, while members of the predominately white gun industry continue to funnel guns onto the streets with little to no consequence. That's why our Combating Crime Guns program focuses on the supply side of gun violence, using a combination of grassroots engagement and coalition-building, gun dealer inspection optimization, government data transparency, and public education efforts.

Combating Crime Guns: A Supply-Side Approach

Brady, under the leadership of President Kris Brown, is the only national organization with a dedicated program focused on combating crime guns — recognizing the critical role of racial justice in ending America’s gun violence epidemic.


Crime guns in impacted communities
Crime guns in impacted communities

Most guns that are used in crime start in the legal marketplace, at a licensed dealer. And 90% of guns recovered in crime are traced back to sales by just 5% of gun dealers nationwide. These "crime gun dealers" often engage in irresponsible or illegal practices, including selling to straw purchasers, bulk or repeat sales to gun traffickers, and selling guns off the books — behaviors that divert guns to the illegal market.

These actions flood impacted communities with guns, which creates a problem akin to attempting to stop opioid addiction when opioids are available on every corner. The U.S. largely ignores the external, systemic factors that drive inequality and violence in communities of color, neglecting survivors and leaving them to resolve their own problems. Demonstrating impressive resilience, survivors and activists have done just that, developing community-based solutions to successfully reduce gun violence. Strategies like these are extremely important, and Brady believes they must be matched with upstream, systems-level change. To combat the epidemic of gun violence, we must reduce the reckless and sometimes even illegal supply of guns driving homicide and gun crime.


of guns recovered from crimes are traced back to just 5% of gun dealers.

  • Identifying Problematic Gun Dealers

    Identifying problematic gun dealers through ATF inspection reports and crime gun trace data

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  • Reforming the Gun Industry

    Encouraging firearm businesses to adopt safe and responsible practices

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  • Engaging Communities

    Working with local community members to reduce gun violence by stemming the flow of crime guns

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Identifying Problematic Gun Dealers


Gun Store Transparency graphics v1 website 1376x774 B

Our Gun Store Transparency Project exposes never-before-released federal records that identify gun stores cited for violating the law, potentially fueling the source of crime guns in America. This is the largest database of ATF gun store inspection reports ever released to the public.

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Addressing the supply side of gun violence is an issue of racial justice.

  • More than 25% of homicides in the U.S. occur in neighborhoods

    containing just 1.5% of the population

  • Black Americans are 11.5x as likely as white Americans

    to die from firearm homicide.


Answers to the most frequent questions about combating crime guns and supply-side solutions. 

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

  • Gun trafficking is the unlawful movement of guns from the legal market to the criminal one. Trafficking can be facilitated by both licensed and unlicensed dealers. A small number of gun dealers are responsible for diverting guns to the criminal market. According to the last available national data, about 90% of crime guns were traced back to just 5% of licensed dealers.

    Bulk sales and private sellers facilitate gun trafficking: traffickers often buy large quantities of firearms and then take advantage of private sale loopholes to move those guns into the criminal market.

  • “Time-to-crime” is the amount of elapsed time between the retail sale of a firearm by a federal firearms licensee (FFL) and its recovery by law enforcement. ATF considers a time-to-crime of less than three years to be a potential indicator of trafficking. When a significant number of crime guns with a short time-to-crime are traced back to one particular FFL, ATF considers this an indicator of potential illegal activity.

  • PLCAA, or the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, is a federal law that provides the gun industry with special protections from civil lawsuits, at the expense of victims of gun violence who would otherwise be entitled to compensation for the damages they have suffered. PLCAA removes key incentives for the gun industry to adopt life-saving business practices and instead provides cover to irresponsible gun dealers who supply the criminal gun market. This small minority of gun dealers profits from dangerous business practices with no accountability to their victims. No other American industry enjoys such civil immunity.

  • Gun tracing is a method for identifying a gun’s chain of custody from manufacture to first retail sale. When law enforcement recovers a firearm, it may send the gun’s serial number and other identifying information to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) through a system called eTrace, to identify the last licensed seller of the gun and, from there, the buyer. According to ATF, crime gun tracing information is used:

    1. To link a suspect with a firearm in a criminal investigation

    2. To identify potential traffickers, whether licensed or unlicensed sellers of firearms

    3. To detect in-state and interstate patterns in the sources and kinds of crime guns

    Gun trace data was once readily available to the public, but ATF interprets a rider that first appeared on the 2003 Appropriations bill, known as the Tiahrt Amendment, to now block ATF from releasing certain types of trace data.

  • A straw purchase is when someone purchases a firearm for another person’s intended use. The straw purchaser fills out the paperwork and completes a background check at a federally licensed firearm dealer, but is in truth buying the gun on behalf of someone else. Straw purchases undermine both the background check system and the gun tracing system, and they allow guns to fall into dangerous hands. Straw purchases are illegal and a major source of trafficked firearms.

  • A federal firearms licensee, or FFL, is an individual or company licensed by ATF to engage in the business of selling firearms.

  • In 2003, the Tiahrt Amendment was first added to a bill funding the ATF and limited the ATF’s ability to publicly disclose certain information from the Firearms Trace System database. Over time, the Tiahrt Amendment has been interpreted to shield the most negligent gun dealers from public scrutiny while also depriving the public of key data to help stem the flow of illegal guns.

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