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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF News
For Immediate Release:

4, 2000


ATF Release Firearms Report, Gun Trafficking Actions

Treasury Secretary

Lawrence H. Summers released a report on Friday announcing that a small

number of firearms dealers account for a majority of crime guns traced

to active dealers and a series of actions in response to the report’s

findings. Secretary Summers was joined by Under Secretary for Enforcement

James E. Johnson and Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms

(ATF) Bradley A. Buckles.

"This report

provides new analysis leading us to new measures in our continuing efforts

to decrease firearms violence and to keep guns out of the hands of criminals

and youth," said Secretary Summers. "Most important, ATF will

conduct intensive inspections of the one-percent of dealers that account

for well over half of all crime guns traced last year. If violations of

law are found, we will take action against these dealers."

The findings are a

part of Commerce in Firearms in the United States, which is ATF’s

first comprehensive report that presents data on the firearms industry

and describes ATF’s regulatory enforcement programs for combating firearms

trafficking. The report documents that:

    • 1.2 percent of

      current dealers (1,020 dealers) account for 57 percent of crime gun

      traces to active dealers. Each of these dealers had 10 or more crime

      guns traced to them. Just 0.2% of dealers (132 dealers) had 50 or

      more crime guns traced to them, accounting for 27% of crime gun traces.

    • Congressional

      reforms enacted in 1993 and 1994 to ensure that only legitimate dealers,

      manufacturers and importers obtain federal firearms licenses have

      resulted in a substantial drop in the number of firearms licensees,

      from approximately 284,000 in 1992 to 104,000 today.

    • A small number

      of retail gun dealers fail to cooperate with ATF requests to trace

      crime guns, obstructing criminal investigations in these cases. In

      1999, approximately 50 retail gun dealers either failed entirely to

      respond to a trace request, did not respond within the required 24

      hours three or more times, or wrongly denied having information that

      they in fact had.

    • In 1998 and 1999,

      firearms dealers voluntarily reported about 1,900 interstate thefts,

      involving over 3,700 firearms. Actions to achieve more comprehensive,

      mandatory reporting is expected to reveal even greater numbers of


ATF also announced

a series of measures it will take in response to the Commerce in Firearms

Report. These include:

  • Conducting intensive

    inspections of over 1,000 retail dealers and pawnbrokers who have 10

    or more crime guns traced to them in 1999. These dealers account for

    well over half of all crime guns traced to active dealers last year.

  • Requiring approximately

    450 dealers to provide ATF with certain information (serial number,

    manufacturer, importer, model) about secondhand firearms they acquire.

    These dealers sold a significant number of new crime guns that were

    recovered by police and traced within three years of leaving the gun

    shop. An estimated two million secondhand guns are sold in the U.S.

    each year and they are largely untraceable. This initiative will enable

    ATF to trace used guns sold by dealers associated with high numbers

    of crime guns.

  • Requiring dealers

    who fail to cooperate with trace requests to send all of their firearms

    records to ATF so that the firearms they sell can be traced if they

    are used in crime. ATF will also take regulatory enforcement actions

    with respect to these dealers, as appropriate.

  • Providing the firearms

    manufacturers and importers, upon request, a list by serial number of

    the firearms they sold that were traced as crime guns during the previous

    year. This will enable the manufacturers and importers to police the

    distribution of the firearms they sell.

  • Publishing a Notice

    of Proposed Rulemaking requiring all Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs)

    to conduct regular inventories and report discrepancies to ATF. This

    will enable FFLs to fulfill their statutory obligations to maintain

    accurate records of the acquisition and disposition of firearms and

    report the loss or theft of firearms to ATF.

  • Amending the ATF

    Federal firearms license application to require dealers renewing their

    licenses to certify how many firearms they acquired and disposed of

    during the preceding three years. This will provide evidence to enable

    ATF to deny renewal applications of dealers who are not actively engaged

    in the business.

"The prevention

of violent crime in America is among ATF’s primary goals. These measures

are another step toward strengthening ATF’s ability to effectively prevent

and solve violent crime," said ATF Director Bradley Buckles.

Commerce in Firearms

in the United States is the first in an annual series of reports that

will present data collected by ATF and other federal agencies relating

to regulation as well as major developments in the firearms industry.


This was last updated on February 04, 2000