Skip to content

Everytown Responds to Department of Justice Announcement of New Firearms Trafficking Strike Forces


Everytown Recently Unveiled Groundbreaking Gun Trafficking Analysis Showing 82% of Likely-Trafficked Guns Came from States Without Background Check Laws

WASHINGTON – Today, Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action released the following statements in response to the Department of Justice’s announcement of five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce violent crime by addressing illegal gun trafficking in significant firearms trafficking corridors. 

“One of the first steps in stopping the surge of city gun violence is stopping the flow of guns from states with weak gun laws into states with stronger laws,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The Department of Justice’s coordinated approach to tracking down gun traffickers and their deadly stock in trade provides some urgently needed help to cities on the frontlines of America’s gun violence crisis.”

“This initiative is aimed at the heart of one of the major causes of our nation’s spike in violent crime — criminal trafficking of guns from states with lax laws into cities,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “There is only so much local governments can do alone to fight gun violence when the next state over makes it so easy for anyone to buy a gun at any time, and we applaud the Justice Department for stepping in. This is a step in the right direction, but Congress must also do its part, starting with the Senate acting to close the background check loophole.”

Everytown for Gun Safety recently unveiled a groundbreaking gun trafficking analysis which showed that over a five-year period law enforcement across the United States recovered and fully traced 1,161,303 guns used in crime. Of those, nearly a third, or 330,350, were recovered in a different state from where the original retail sale occurred, and 84,389 of those traced crime guns were purchased with the explicit intent to traffic them. 

This is due to a patchwork of state background check laws that makes it easy for individuals to traffic firearms from states with weaker gun laws. Everytown’s report showed that of the 330,350 traced guns that crossed state lines, 76% originated in states without background check laws. This factor is even more pronounced for likely trafficked guns: 82% of the 84,389 traced guns recovered across state lines within three years came from states without background check laws.

In March, Everytown and the City of Baltimore announced a first-of-its-kind data intelligence tool to identify illegal firearms, solve crimes, and combat gun trafficking. The Gun Trafficking Intelligence Platform generates custom leads by examining specific trends and patterns in the data. In April, Everytown Law filed a lawsuit on behalf of the City of Chicago against an Indiana gun store tied to over 850 crime guns recovered by the City. 

Today’s announcement from the Department of Justice is an important step, but without federal action to strengthen background checks, our nation’s gun laws are only as strong as our weakest states’ laws. Strengthening our nation’s background check law is a key component to reducing the prevalence of interstate gun trafficking. Congress must pass bipartisan background check legislation to help address the hundreds of thousands of crime guns that were trafficked out of states without a background check law. A federal law would curb the practice of crossing state lines to acquire firearms because prohibited purchasers would be unable to easily acquire guns on the secondary market regardless of the state, and records of gun sales by unlicensed sellers would be kept and could be used in tracing efforts when guns are recovered in crimes.