Fri. May 24th, 2024

Federal report finds 68,000 guns were illegally trafficked through unlicensed dealers over 5 years

By 37ci3 Apr5,2024

WASHINGTON — More than 68,000 illegal firearms were brought into the U.S. through unlicensed dealers who did not need to conduct background checks over a five-year period, according to new data released Thursday. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.

That represents 54% of all firearms in illegal circulation in the United States between 2017 and 2021, Justice Department officials said. ATF Director Steve Dettelbach said the guns were used in 368 shootings, which are more difficult to investigate because unlicensed dealers are not required to keep records of their sales, which could allow federal agents to trace the gun back to the original buyer.

Report ordered It is the first in-depth analysis of firearms trafficking investigations by Attorney General Merrick Garland in more than 20 years. He reviewed more than 9,700 closed ATF firearms trafficking investigations initiated between 2017 and 2021. Firearms trafficking is the intentional transfer of firearms to the illegal market for criminal purposes or possession.

The second highest share of firearms trafficking cases investigated by the ATF were straw purchases, in which someone buys a gun from someone who cannot obtain it legally.

The report also found that in almost 60 percent of cases where investigators were able to determine the origin of the person who purchased the gun, the purchasers of the trafficked firearms were people with prior felony convictions. Additionally, trafficked firearms were used to commit additional crimes in almost 25 percent of cases, Dettelbach said. According to the report, this includes more than 260 murders and more than 220 attempted murders.

“The data shows that those who illegally carry firearms in trunks, at gun shows or online are responsible for real violence in this country,” Dettelbach said. “In short, you cannot illegally help arm violent people and be responsible for the violence that follows,” he said.

The report found that the average number of weapons traded per incident was 16. People who obtained them through unlicensed dealers bought an average of 20 guns, compared with 11 for straw buyers, according to the report.

The Biden administration has a separate one suggested rule it requires thousands more gun dealers to obtain licenses and conduct background checks. The Justice Department says it’s aimed at dealers who sell firearms, but the proposal quickly drew opposition from gun rights groups, who said it could sometimes ensnare ordinary people selling their own guns.

The yet-to-be-specified rule is estimated to affect between 24,500 and 328,000 sellers. During the five years documented in the report, 3,400 unlicensed dealers were investigated by the ATF.

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By 37ci3

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