Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Gun Trafficking Crisis Is Fueling Violent Crime Nationwide, New CAP Analysis Finds
Press Release

RELEASE: Gun Trafficking Crisis Is Fueling Violent Crime Nationwide, New CAP Analysis Finds

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis released today by the Center for Americans Progress reveals that trafficked firearms are increasingly turning up at crime scenes across the country and, as a result, have become a major driver of violent crime nationwide. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)—the agency tasked with preventing gun trafficking and overseeing the gun industry—more than 600,000 crime guns traced from 2010 to 2020 originated from a different state than the one in which they were recovered. And key data indicate that gun trafficking is only getting worse, particularly following a spike in gun sales during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“By weakening states’ gun laws, MAGA extremists in the pocket of the gun lobby are essentially exporting violent crime to states with stronger gun laws,” said Eugenio Weigend Vargas, director for Gun Violence Prevention at CAP. “Tackling gun trafficking must be a key part of a comprehensive strategy to address this country’s gun violence crisis—particularly as we enter the summer season, which has historically been associated with an increase in crime.”

The Biden administration has taken important steps to address this crisis, including by nominating Steve Dettelbach as ATF director and issuing a series of measures aimed at reducing gun trafficking. However, as detailed in a separate CAP column, these important steps must be complemented by congressional and state-level policies, including:

  • Addressing gun trafficking corridors across the country, including along the East Coast’s Iron Pipeline and in states neighboring Illinois
  • Monitoring firearm sales at private gun shows, which are frequent venues for traffickers to acquire or sell guns with no questions asked
  • Passing gun violence prevention legislation at the federal and state level, in particular universal background checks
  • Taking action at the local level to address gun trafficking, including increased reporting and tracing of crime guns

Read the fact sheet:The Gun Trafficking Crisis Is Fueling Violent Crime” by Eugenio Weigend Vargas

Read the column:The United States Must Address Its Gun Trafficking Crisis” by Eugenio Weigend Vargas and Alex Barrio

For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Tricia Woodcome at twoodcome@americanprogress.org