What is the problem?
Criminals get their hands on tens of thousands of guns every year through illegal trafficking. States with weak gun laws often serve as suppliers of guns to states with stronger gun laws. Law enforcement is constrained by insufficient laws to crack down on gun trafficking.
The U.S. lacks a strong federal gun trafficking law to crack down on illegal networks that supply guns to criminals. Prosecutors who want to fight traffickers must rely on a law that prohibits “selling guns without a federal license.” This weak law carries the same punishment as trafficking chicken or livestock. Nearly a third of traced guns were brought across state lines before being used in a crime—8 of these 10 states did not have background check laws during the study period. A strong federal trafficking law would enable law enforcement to crack down on gun traffickers—and keep trafficked guns off our streets.
Why is it an issue?
States with weak gun laws supply guns to criminals in other states.
By the numbers
Over 1.3 million crime guns were recovered by law enforcement in just five years.
74 percent of traced guns that crossed state lines came from states without background check laws.
78 percent of traced guns with a short time-to-crime that crossed state lines came from states without background check laws.
What are the solutions?
Prevent Gun Trafficking
The United States lacks strong federal gun trafficking laws to crack down on illegal gun trafficking networks. Congress should pass robust gun trafficking and straw purchasing laws to help keep guns off our streets.
Gun Dealer Reform
Laws on how gun stores conduct their business have not been strengthened since the 1960s. Congress should pass comprehensive gun dealer reform.
Repeal Restrictions on Gun Trace Data
Since 2003, the Tiahrt Amendments have restricted law enforcement's ability to investigate and prosecute gun crimes. This data-blocking protects corrupt gun dealers and hinders law enforcement.
Smart Guns and Gun Safety Features
A personalized—or “smart”—gun is a firearm that employs authorized-use technology, like the thumb scan or passcode available on many smartphones, to turn stolen guns and guns accessed by children into harmless pieces of steel. If widely implemented, it would be a game-changer for keeping guns out of the hands of children and criminals.
Stop Downloadable Guns
Downloadable guns, or 3-D printed guns, are serious threats to our communities. The key to stopping the spread of downloadable guns is to stop the spread of the computer code that is used to 3-D print the firearm or its parts.