A question for Senators Clinton, McCain and Obama: “Should you become President, in addition to enforcing current laws, what steps would you take to combat this enormous problem of gun trafficking and illegal guns?”
Guns start out being legally manufactured and legally sold to licensed firearms dealers. From there, guns move from the legal to the illegal market through a variety of predictable, and preventable, avenues.
* Studies show that 1 percent of gun dealers sell 57 percent of gun crimes. These rogue gun dealers have a vastly disproportionate impact on public safety. The ATF can recognize such dealers based on: (1) guns stolen from inventory; (2) missing federal sales records, needed by police to solve crimes; (3) having 10 weapons a year traced to crimes; (4) frequently selling multiple guns to individual buyers; and (5) short times between gun sales and their involvement in crimes. Yet ATF enforcement capabilities are constantly being weakened, not strengthened, by Congress.
* Straw purchases and multiple gun sales are a large source of illegal guns. A straw purchase is when someone who is not eligible to buy a gun has another person buy one for them. Multiple sales (someone who is purchasing 10, 20, 50 guns a month) are often a sign of illegal gun trafficking. A few states have adopted laws that restrict handgun sales to one handgun a month.
* Stolen guns are also a large source of illegal guns. Guns are stolen from homes and from cars. And sometimes, when police trace guns back to an owner, “the gun was stolen” is used as a simple excuse to cover up an illegal sale. This is why more states are pushing for laws that would require lost and stolen guns be reported to police within 24 hours.
* Private gun sales, where there is no background check run, no records kept, and no questions asked, help fuel the illegal gun market. It is estimated that only 60% of firearms are sold through licensed dealers – meaning that 40% of guns can be legally sold without background checks. This is a system open to abuse. Everyday at gun shows, in newspaper ads, over kitchen tables, guns are sold in private sales to felons, juveniles, domestic abusers, and other prohibited people (including those with serious mental illness) with no background check run, no records kept and no questions asked.
So, the question to the presidential candidates is: “Should you become President, in addition to enforcing current laws, what steps would you take to combat this enormous problem of gun trafficking and illegal guns?”