Every gun on our streets starts somewhere, and the overwhelming majority have their origins in the legal marketplace.

Understanding how guns — particularly those that have been diverted from legal commerce to the illegal market — make their way to crime scenes is essential to crafting evidence-based solutions to gun violence.

A critical piece of understanding and intervening in this diversion path begins with identifying problematic gun dealers.

Crime gun dealers engage in behaviors that facilitate the diversion of guns to the criminal market, such as selling to straw purchasers, bulk or repeat sales to gun traffickers, and selling guns off the books.


We know that 90% of crime guns can be traced back to just 5% of gun dealers.

But since 2003, the Tiahrt Amendment, passed at the behest of the gun lobby, has limited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) from publicly disclosing crime gun trace information. 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.

That's why our Combating Crime Guns program has used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and state and local gun tracing information to uncover trends in crime gun trace data.

In 2023, we released the most important gun trace dataset the public had seen in decades, examining trends in crime gun trace data secured in Pennsylvania. In 2024, we took this a step further, securing data on the top crime gun dealers in all of the U.S. This data is the clearest look we’ve had in two decades as to which gun dealers sell the most crime guns.

  • PA park

    Uncovering The Truth About Pennsylvania Crime Guns

    We have used Pennsylvania's Gun Tracing Analytics Platform and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives’ (ATF) listing of federal firearm licensees to uncover trends in crime gun trace data — finding that a small number of gun dealers in Pennsylvania appear to be responsible for a large portion of the crime guns recovered by law enforcement in the state.

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  • Gun store sign

    The Suppliers of America's Gun Violence Epidemic

    In an effort to better understand how guns make their way from the legal marketplace to ultimately being used in crime, Brady has used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to gain access to the list of federal firearm dealers subject to the ATF's Demand Letter 2 (DL2) program. The Demand Letter 2 program was created to identify firearms dealers that sell the most crime guns and to aid law enforcement investigations.

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In addition to obtaining crime gun trace data, our Combating Crime Guns program works to identify gun stores cited for breaking the law. ATF’s internal goal is to inspect each dealer once every three years; however, ATF’s oversight of these dealers is limited — with most dealers only being inspected once a decade.

The public lacks transparency into which gun stores are violating our public safety laws and whether law enforcement is doing anything about it. That’s why Brady spent years filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and fighting in court to secure more than 3,400 federal — and counting — inspection reports from ATF.

The Enhanced Inspections Initiative

Brady’s Enhanced Inspections Initiative provides state and local authorities with the tools necessary to optimize their gun dealer inspection processes. State and local gun industry oversight is necessary because ATF inspects only about 5% to 7% of federal firearms licensees (FFLs) each year and even when ATF does inspect an FFL, it often fails to adequately enforce the law — while more than half of ATF inspections find violations, only 1.3% of inspections result in ATF revoking the dealer’s license.

Using the ATF inspection data we obtained through FOIA requests and litigation, Brady has derived a method for identifying key characteristics of dealers more likely to violate the law. Our method is 4.5 times more likely to identify a non-compliant dealer than random selection. We expect its accuracy to increase as we gain access to more data.

Brady is working to integrate this proprietary data-analytics tool into state and local inspection processes, allowing authorities to focus their limited resources on dealers who are more likely to be violating the law.

Gun Store Transparency Project


Gun Store Transparency Project
The largest database of ATF gun store inspection reports ever released to the public.

We're exposing never-before-released ATF records that identify gun stores cited for breaking the law and potentially fueling the supply of crime guns in America. Enter a zip code and find cited violations among gun stores in your area and across the country.

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    Encouraging firearm businesses to adopt safe and responsible practices

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

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