It is well-documented that about 60% of the guns retrieved at crime scenes originate with only 1% of licensed gun dealers. Adding insult to injury, most of these bastards are still in business. Why? Excellent question. The short answer: the NRA and GOA, along with their associated front groups, have worked hard to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to stop these bad actors.
Here's one example: Badger Guns and Ammo. These motherfuckers didn't merely sell the Bushmaster to the Beltway Sniper, as Asher Heimermann pointed out here, on Daily Kos a few years ago in a largely unnoticed post:
Badger Guns is the the biggest seller of crime guns in the United States.In 2006, between January and September, 1,880 crime guns recovered in Milwaukee were linked to Badger Guns. That was several years AFTER they were identified as the source of the Beltway Sniper's Bushmaster. If that was all they had done, one might have shrugged and said, "Hey, you can't blame the auto dealership for the actions of a drunk driver." However, the same year Badger sold the sniper his Bushmaster, they also reported over 600 guns "lost" from their store. That's almost 2 guns A DAY going unaccounted for. One store.
People in Milwaukee are not happy about this. That includes Police Chief Flynn. 6 of his police officers have been shot by guns bought from Badger Guns and Ammo and three quarters of straw purchases in the area were traced back to them.
The result? Badger changed its name to Brew City Shooters Supply and the former owner, after losing his FFL, turned the business over to his brother. So if you are ever in Milwaukee and looking for a place to buy a gun so you can shoot a cop... now you know where to go. At the moment, you can only get ammo. But they are working to change that, dontchyaknow?
But wait, there's more....
The Washington Post did an extensive survey of homicides in the DC area, looking at a decade's worth of data. This covered the time before Heller, before it was legal to own a gun in DC. So where did all the guns come from? Turns out ONE STORE, RealCo in Maryland accounted for almost 1/3 of all the guns retrieved at crime scenes in DC and neighboring Prince George's County. During the decade of data examined, that one store was responsible for 2,500 crime guns. That's about two a week. To put that in perspective:
Out of 350 gun dealers in Maryland, Realco -- BY ITSELF -- accounted for 1/3 of all crime guns in that survey.Like Badger, they are still in business.
A related investigation by the Washington Post found:
Nearly two out of three guns sold in Virginia since 1998 and recovered by local authorities came from about 1 percent of the state's dealers - 40 out of the 3,400 selling guns.They are all still in business.
I could do the same thing in Florida, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia, you name it. This is not a secret. This is not one of Donald Rumsfeld's famous "unknowns" that require any special expertise to identify.
This is not a new problem. I just showed you that it has been going on for well over a decade. So what was the federal response to this? Glad you asked. As James Alan Fox, writing in the Boston Globe about Boston's Illegal Gun Problem noted:
our nation’s approach to guns, gun control, and gun enforcement changed dramatically during the last decade once George W. Bush moved into the White House.Some of the most important federal changes went unnoticed at the time because they were about boring things like data collection. Here's the money quote:
In 2003, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), a recipient of significant NRA support, quietly slipped an amendment into an appropriations bill that suddenly limited public access to ATF crime-gun trace data. These tracing records tended to implicate certain licensed firearms dealers as common source points in supply chains for illegal gun trafficking. Several analyses of trace data, including my own, had shown that 1% of licensed gun dealers was linked to a majority of firearms recovered from criminal enterprises. While most of these traces may have involved legitimate transactions, many unscrupulous merchants were easily flagged.The Tiahrt amendment, bought and paid for with NRA blood money, has hobbled countless investigations over the last decade. Keep that in mind the next time you hear wack-a-doodle LaPierre try to sow hysteria by claiming:
Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. Meanwhile, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% — to the lowest levels in a decade.It's no coincidence the prosecutions are down. The NRA effectively has blocked enforcement efforts at every turn. Remember this the next time LaPierre claims to pull the curtain back and reveal
another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal: There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.He wants you to think it's video games and movies. But Australians watch the same movies and play the same games. They don't have anywhere near the same murder rate we do. No, the dirty little secret LaPierre doesn't want to share about the problem with guns and crime is some of the people who profit from selling those guns sit on the board of directors at the NRA.
It's not just guns; it's ammo, too. Consider the .223 rounds used in the Bushmaster and other similar AR-15 rifles. If you didn't know anything about rounds, you might think the only difference between .223 round and .22 round is one is just a shade larger than the other. You'd be wrong.
The .223 round is shaped differently, made of different material, and has dramatically different ballistic properties. It's designed to defeat body armor. It's designed to expand on impact and transfer massive force once inside the body. It's similar to what the Secret Service and NATO forces use. There is no doubt these bullets are good for dropping bear and deer, too. But if you ask people who know about hunting their opinion on .223 rounds, the common refrain is always the same. It isn't about caliber; it's all about shot placement. The point is that we are seeing increased carnage due to significant advances in the design of both guns and their ammo.
So... what do we do about this? Fortunately, we don't have to start with a blank slate. As noted above, the problems we are seeing in places like DC, Boston, and Milwaukee, plague many other cities. Faced with the consequences, the mayors of these cities have come together and formed a group to address the problem. Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns consists of 750 mayors united in their desire to end the trafficking in illegal guns so they can mitigate some of the carnage they are faced with. While homicide rates are down across the country, the rate of homicides by guns has increased. The prescription is simple: cut off access to illegal guns and you will dramatically drop the rate guns are used in crimes.
When you have 750 mayors banding together, they have the resources to actually study the problem in a way that cannot be ignored. In the wake of the Newtown massacre, they signed off on a letter to the President demanding action. Quoting the President to his face, they reminded him of his statement at the memorial:
“If there is even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that has visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that – then surely we have an obligation to try.”They then went on to propose a list of seven specific steps that can be taken immediately. Nobody is calling for wholesale snatching up of guns. In addition to calling for a repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, they are calling for the president to
put forward an agenda that is rooted in common sense and that will make it harder for dangerous people to possess guns, and easier for police and prosecutors to crack down on them.
Their suggestions are not pie-in-the-sky nostrums. They are not knee-jerk responses to anecdotes. They are not the fevered ravings of delusional minds. They are borne of serious studies, like this one, "The Movement of Illegal Guns in America" (warning PDF). This 2008 study looked specifically at the interstate movement of illegal guns and existing federal gun laws.
The study began with following premise:
In the highly contentious debate about the appropriate scope of gun laws, it is important to keep in mind two propositions that almost all sides agree on.Many of the specific recommendations sent to President Obama last month stemmed from this report and others like it. Considering this point of departure as common ground for those with common sense, we come full circle to the gun dealers responsible for selling the instruments of crime.
First, the vast majority of gun owners in this country are law-abiding citizens; most gun crimes are committed by a small minority of the gun-owning population.
Second, gun laws must be designed to keep firearms away from the criminal minority without infringing on the rights of the law-abiding majority.
As the Brady Campaign noted a few years ago:
The Top 10 Crime Gun Dealers in America are:Those traces represent illegal guns used at crime scenes and traced back to these dealers.
Vance Outdoors, Columbus, Ohio - 2,390 traces
Hyatt Coin and Gun, Charlotte - 2,055 traces
Dons Guns and Galleries, Indianapolis - 1,910 traces
Guns and Ammo, Memphis - 1,865 traces
Arrowhead Pawn, Jonesboro, Georgia - 1,720 traces
Badger Guns, W. Milwaukee, Wisconsin - 1,700 traces
Trader Sports, San Leandro, California - 1,605 traces
Lone Wolf Trading Co, Glendale, Arizona - 1,515 traces
Candler Road Pawn Shop, Decatur, Georgia - 1,325 traces
Shooters of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida - 1,320 traces
We know where they live. The worst offenders are located in a few states and export their wares across state lines with impunity.
We know what we have to do. It is high time we demand a plan to put laws in place that rid our communities and our country of the scourge these death dealers represent. It is high time we tell the NRA to STFU while we ignore their efforts to block funding for these much needed changes. That includes reporting and registration.
If anyone tries to discourage you by saying this is hard work, I have a simple question for them: Which is harder, burying these bastards or burying our children?