Frequently Asked Questions About Gun Trafficking

Frequently Asked Questions About Gun Trafficking

Getty/Ronaldo Schemidt View of seized weapons before being destroyed at the workshops of the Mexican secretary of defense in Mexico City on August 18, 2010. This fact sheet will be periodically updated to account for new policy developments. It was last updated on August 20, 2021. Click here to view other fact sheets in this series. What is gun trafficking? Gun trafficking is the movement of guns from legal to illegal streams of commerce and occurs both within states and across state lines. 1 As former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Director Bradley Buckles stated in a 2000 report, “Virtually every crime gun in the United States starts off as a legal firearm,” 2 making the need to prevent gun trafficking a crucial part of a comprehensive approach to reducing gun-related crime. Guns are diverted into illegal gun markets in three common ways: straw purchases; secondary sales through private sellers; and theft from individual gun owners or firearm dealers. 3 Straw purchasing occurs when an individual who is not prohibited from buying a gun purchases a firearm on behalf of someone else—usually someone who is prohibited by law from purchasing or possessing a firearm. For example, in February 2020, a 41-year-old male purchased firearms in Virginia on behalf of a third party who then resold the firearm to a man in New York City. 4 In another case, in September 2018, ATF arrested and charged five individuals who had purchased 30 firearms on behalf of prohibited […]

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