Chairwoman Maloney Sends Letter to ATF Revealing How Certain Gun Dealers Are Fueling Violent Crime
Washington, D.C. (April 28, 2022)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, sent a letter to Gary M. Restaino, Acting Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), revealing preliminary information from the Committee’s investigation into the gun violence epidemic and urging the agency to provide comprehensive data on the gun dealers in each state with the most crime guns traced to their business. The Committee’s investigation revealed a troubling pattern where a few dealers have sold thousands of guns later used in crimes. One dealer in Georgia, for example, sold more than 6,000 guns from 2014 to 2019 that were later recovered at crime scenes—equivalent to roughly 10% of the guns sold by that dealer.
“Information obtained by the Committee reveals a troubling pattern of gun sales in which a handful of dealers have sold thousands of guns that were then used in crimes, potentially including murders, robberies, and assaults,” the Chairwoman wrote.
The Committee analyzed data related to 12 gun dealers that demonstrate especially troubling gun sales patterns, based on guns recovered in connection with crimes from 2014 through mid-2019 and traced back to these gun dealers. The Committee’s analysis found:
- One gun dealer in Georgia, coded as “GA01,” produced more than 6,000 traces, the most of any dealer nationwide. This dealer alone accounted for more than half of Georgia’s reported traces. The Committee calculated the monthly average number of guns recovered at crime scenes from January 2014 to August 2019 that were sold by this dealer and the monthly average number of guns sold by the dealer during an overlapping six-year period. GA01’s average monthly gun traces are equivalent to 10% of its average monthly sales. In other words, roughly one in ten guns sold by this dealer was later traced to a crime.
- In Florida, three dealers in the state combined to sell more than 5,500 guns that were later used in crimes. More than 80% of those traces took place less than five years after the sale. The data also shows that, from January 2014 to August 2019, 100% of out-of-state guns used in crimes in Puerto Rico were sold by Florida dealers.
- States with lax gun laws are selling large numbers of guns used in crimes in neighboring states, including more than 1,000 crime guns sold in Indiana that were recovered in Illinois. According to information obtained by the Committee, in every year from 2014 to 2019, at least one Indiana dealer ranked among the top five dealers of crime guns recovered in Illinois. In 2016 and 2017, two Indiana dealers ranked among the top five. At least 1,032 crime guns crossed state lines into Illinois from the top gun dealers in Indiana during this period.
Although these 12 gun dealers are particularly concerning, they represent only a small portion of the gun dealers that have sold significant numbers of crime guns, and the Committee asked ATF to provide information on the five gun dealers in each state responsible for selling the highest numbers of guns recovered in connection with a crime.
“The Committee respects the rights of law-abiding Americans under the Second Amendment, and the Committee’s investigation is squarely focused on addressing the sale and trafficking of guns that are used in violent crimes,” the Chairwoman wrote. “However, the information the Committee is seeking is critical to evaluate the practices of gun dealers that sell large numbers of guns used in crimes, to assess the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts to curb gun trafficking and gun violence, and to consider potential legislation to address these issues.”
Since the Committee launched this investigation last Congress, America’s epidemic of gun violence has only grown worse with a rising tide of gun sales and gun deaths. In 2020, more than 45,000 people were killed by guns, a nearly 15% increase over the previous year.
Click here to read today’s letter.