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Everytown Responds to ATF’s New Gun Trafficking Report


WASHINGTON — Today, after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) released Volume III of the National Firearms Commerce and Trafficking Assessment on Firearm Trafficking Investigations, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action released the following statements:

“All too often, there are two criminals behind a single gun crime — not just the shooter, but also the trafficker who sold him an illegal weapon,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “This report drives home how important it is for ATF to finalize its ‘Engaged in the Business’ rule to ensure everyone who deals in firearms obtains licenses and conducts background checks on customers. We’re thankful to the Biden-Harris Administration for doing everything in its power to stop gun crime at the source, which means going after unlicensed dealers, straw purchasers, and gun thieves.”

“The gun industry has long benefited from being unseen, but we can’t ignore the role it plays in fueling our gun violence crisis—a crisis that is made all the worse due to gun trafficking,” said Angela Ferrell-Zabala, executive director of Moms Demand Action. “This report from ATF helps further expose who the traffickers are, where they’re trafficking guns to and from, and how they’re doing it. It must be met with real action, and that means ensuring that ATF has the tools and resources to stop traffickers and hold them, and the gun industry, accountable.”


  • ATF firearm trafficking investigations documented 7,779 cases in which nearly 230,000 firearms were trafficked between 2017 and 2021.
    • In 40.7% of the cases, firearms were trafficked by an unlicensed dealer, and in 39.5%, firearms were trafficked by straw purchasers. In 17.3%, firearms were stolen from a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL).
      • According to ATF, the unlicensed manufacturing of “Privately Made Firearms” — or untraceable ghost guns — “was not previously considered to be a substantive pathway for criminals to acquire firearms,” but now ranks in the top 10 trafficking channels.
    • Over half the firearms trafficked were handguns, and nearly 19% were rifles.
  • Firearm traffickers “exploit well-established firearm commerce venues, such as gun shows and flea markets, and new technology — including online marketplaces, social media platforms, and peer-to-peer applications.” ATF investigates trafficking “through web and application-based sources almost as frequently as firearm trafficking through gun shows, flea markets, and auctions.”
  • Of 7,350 investigations, more than half involved intrastate trafficking, approximately 32% involved interstate trafficking, and 20% involved international trafficking.
    • Georgia and Arizona accounted for the largest percentages of cases involved in interstate trafficking. Both states are considered national failures in terms of gun laws.
    • Mexico was identified as the “most prevalent market country” involved in international trafficking, with Texas and Arizona serving as source states in nearly 40% and 25% of international trafficking cases, respectively. 

The Biden-Harris Administration is the strongest gun safety administration in history, as evidenced by President Biden’s signing and implementation of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, launching of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, confirmation of an ATF director for the first time in seven years, historic executive actions to address gun violence, his long record of taking on the NRA and passing life-saving laws, Vice President Kamala Harris’ years of gun safety advocacy, and the unmatched gun sense cabinet they have built. President Biden has prioritized gun safety since entering office, from combating deadly, untraceable ghost guns and helping close the background check loophole, to finalization of the stabilizing arm brace rule, to the comprehensive strategy to address gun violence that includes efforts to fight gun trafficking, investments in community violence intervention programs, and more.