How Guns Flow from Legal to Illegal Commerce

How Guns Flow from Legal to Illegal Commerce
Image of a chart showing how guns flow from legal to illegal commerce.

How Guns Flow from Legal to Illegal Commerce

Legal Trade in Guns

  • You start with the gun manufacturers.
  • Then, you have the dealers.
  • Next comes law-abiding gun owners.
  • Legal private sale.

How guns enter illegal commerce

Guns enter illegal commerce through one of three ways.

  1. By private transactions in which guns bought and later sold at gun shows, flea markets, or through private sales to prohibited persons.
  2. By straw purchasers who are individuals who buy guns from dealers and transfer them to the prohibited persons.
  3. By theft where firearms are stolen from gun dealers and private citizens.

Gun traffickers transfer guns from legal commerce to illegal commerce and are considered to be violent criminals.

Published by ATF on February 16, 2016.

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Last Reviewed September 22, 2016