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I live in Maryland, a progressive state.  This year our legislature passed one of the strongest gun control laws in the nation, The Firearm Safety Act of 2013.  Therefore I was shocked to hear on the radio on my drive home this afternoon that Maryland is actually third in the nation in the number of guns lost or stolen from gun dealers. According to WYPR, our local NPR station:

A new report shows that Maryland is the third worst state in the country when it comes to guns being lost or stolen from federally licensed firearms dealers. Maryland gun dealers reported the loss of 886 guns and the theft of nearly 100 others last year. The state trails only Texas and Pennsylvania in the number of weapons lost or stolen from dealers

According to Daniel Webster, the Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, the number of lost or stolen guns in Maryland "is not in line with either Maryland's population or low gun ownership rate."

While I understand that sometimes people will break into gun shops to steal guns, it is absolutely incredible that anyone would allow such a dangerous weapon to go "missing."    I think that it is far more likely that these guns have been illegally sold to purchasers who would be disqualified from owning them under the law.  

Given that guns are so dangerous, I would like to see a bright line rule that either a gun dealer reports a missing firearm as stolen (and agrees to cooperate with the state in its prosecution if the weapon is ever recovered) or that gun dealer can no longer sell guns period.  No exceptions.  

That some of these "missing" guns are likely part of illegal transactions is documented by The Baltimore Sun.  It notes that one gun dealer, Valley Gun (which is now closed) was missing 25% of its inventory and that 483 guns recovered at crime scenes could be traced back to Valley Gun.  

The problem of missing and stolen guns is a huge problem nationwide, and is not limited to gun dealers.  According to The Baltimore Sun, when the number of lost and stolen guns from individual gun owners was combined with the number of lost and stolen guns from  gun dealers that figure was 190,000 for 2012.    According to the Center for American Progress:

The total number of guns lost or stolen from dealers is likely much higher, the Center for American Progress said . . . the ATF only has the manpower to inspect about 19 percent of gun dealers every year.

This is the first year that data on the number of lost and stolen guns has been collected.  

President Barack Obama ordered the ATF to compile the audit annually in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, so there are no previous reports for comparison.

You can look up the statistics for your state here:

Hopefully, these statistics will be the catalyst for the federal government and the states doing something about the problem of "missing guns."  But given the power that the NRA has demonstrated both before and since  the Newtown massacres, I won't hold my breath waiting for this to happen.  

Originally posted to night cat on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 07:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Maryland Kos, Shut Down the NRA, and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).


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