The news from this gun-soaked nation continues to be alarming.
Though overall crime was down last year, according to FBI data, the murder rate rose about 25 percent and violent crime about 3 percent. Based on the data that has been collected President Biden will impose one slice of a solution this week.
Sturm, Ruger a leading gun manufacturer, reported a 50% spike in quarterly sales and more than doubled its profit, continuing its frenetic sales surge during the coronavirus pandemic. These types of staggering sales are being reported by all the gun manufacturers.
Sadly, there is no government or national database of gun sales, but the Federal Bureau of Investigation keeps track of pre-sale background checks, an indicator that’s been soaring to record highs.
We are aware that more than 2 million of the March background checks were for new gun purchases, according to the National Shooting Sports Federation, the firearms industry trade group that compares FBI background check numbers with actual sales data to determine its sales figures. About 40% of buyers in early 2020 were first-time buyers, according to this foundation.
If there is any ray of sunshine to this madness it is the degree to which a provision of the background check is working.
The number of people stopped from buying guns through the U.S. background check system hit an all-time high of more than 300,000 last year amid a surge of firearm sales, according to new records obtained by the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
The FBI numbers provided to The Associated Press show the background checks blocked nearly twice as many gun sales in 2020 as in the year before. About 42% of those denials were because the would-be buyers had felony convictions on their records.
The Biden Administration has been stymied by the NRA-bought Congress, but will seek to effect change in another manner.
Biden will direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to seek to revoke licenses from gun sellers the first time they are caught willfully selling a weapon to a person who is not permitted to have one, neglecting to run a required background check or ignoring a federal request to provide trace information about a weapon used in a crime. The policy attacks a source of crime guns, which in some instances can be traced to sloppy or irresponsible dealers, experts say.
The type of gun business Biden is talking about could have applied to the one in West Milwaukee that created a plethora of news stories years ago. The business had operated under the names of Badger Guns & Ammo, Badger Outdoors, and Badger Guns. Federal investigators repeatedly found violations at the gun store.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2009 on the highly troubling impact of this one gun store on the larger community.
Badger Guns, and its predecessor, Badger Outdoors, have accounted for roughly one-third of all crime guns traced by Milwaukee police in the past four years, the data shows. No other store in the state comes close to that figure. The next closest, The Shooters Shop in West Allis, accounted for less than 3% of guns traced by Milwaukee police during the same period.
A total of 1,880 crime guns recovered in Milwaukee were linked to Badger between January 2006 and Sept. 1 – or more than one a day, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis.
During the 11-week operation, Milwaukee police:
• Discovered felons use Badger’s shooting range for target practice. In one case, store employees rented a gun to a felon to shoot. Another felon had a shooting “range pass card” in his pocket showing he had shot at Badger previously. Store employees check driver’s licenses but not criminal histories of shooters.
• Seized 12 guns from felons and others leaving the store. They arrested nine felons for possessing guns, seven for carrying a concealed weapon and four on drug charges. Eight people have been charged so far as a result of the sweep.
• Spotted felons frequently going in the store or waiting outside. Felons are banned from possessing guns, but probation agents do not routinely require felons to stay out of gun stores such as Badger. Police and prosecutors say that should change.
Police Chief Edward Flynn said he learned how many guns from Badger were ending up in violent crimes when he became chief nearly two years ago. After the officers were shot, Flynn ordered up a plan to target illegal gun buys at Badger.
I am very glad that Biden will use the power granted to him and work within that framework to impact the gun epidemic in this nation. The danger to the larger society from the guns and their violent owners need to be corralled.