The Problem: Every gun in the United States starts off as a legal firearm but can quickly become illegal in a number of ways. Each year thousands of guns purchased legally make their way into the hands of criminals and end up killing innocent people. In 2010 there were more than 5,000 guns trafficked into New York State and used in crimes that were from sales in other states.
1. Straw Purchasers: Criminals obtain guns illegally from straw purchasers who pretend to buy guns for themselves and instead sell the guns to people who would never pass a background check because of felony convictions, mental illness, domestic violence convictions, and drug addiction.
2. Corrupt Dealers: Criminals may also buy guns from corrupt Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) knowing there is a good chance they will never be caught or brought to justice because the NRA has successfully limited the ATF’s funding and ability to investigate and prosecute corrupt dealers.
3. Bulk gun sales: With the exception of 2 states, anyone can buy an unlimited number of guns at one time. Multiple gun sales to the same person at one single purchase are a leading indicator of illegal firearm trafficking, and those guns are frequently later found to be used in crime.
4. No Background Checks: See “Fixing the Background Check System” for more information and solutions to the problem.