Washington, D.C. — Americans have grown all too familiar with the immediate aftermath of a tragedy involving firearms: The national conversation that follows often centers around the perpetrator, grim details of the devastation that was wrought, and debates over what could have been done to intervene to prevent that specific act of violence. However, seldom mentioned in these conversations is the role of the very industry that is responsible for manufacturing and distributing the firearms and ammunition used in these tragedies in the first place.
A comprehensive and data-driven report from the Center for American Progress sheds new light on an industry that has operated for decades without meaningful oversight or regulation and that is fueling the country’s gun violence epidemic.
In addition to providing hard data on the sale, manufacturing, and transfer of firearms in and out of the United States, the report details how federal authority over the multibillion-dollar gun industry has been systematically weakened, with budget constraints and congressional restrictions crippling the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from effectively regulating it. Gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers operate largely without oversight when supplying deadly weapons on the commercial market. Consumers are left unprotected from defective products because the gun industry is exempted from federal safety regulations, and gun manufacturers and dealers are often shielded from lawsuits following heinous acts of violence using their products.
“For far too long, the national strategy to address gun violence has focused disproportionately on the demand side of the problem—the end users of guns in crimes of violence—and has completely ignored the supply side and the role of the nation’s gun manufacturers and dealers in contributing to this public health emergency,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president of Gun Violence Prevention at CAP. “Through a constellation of weak gun laws, budgetary restrictions, and political interference in the work of ATF, the gun industry has been free to operate effectively unregulated at great profit for itself and at the expense of the safety of our communities.”
The report provides a series of recommendations to better regulate the gun industry, including:
- Increasing oversight of gun manufacturers, importers, exporters, and dealers
- Requiring licensed gun dealers to implement security measures to prevent theft
- Strengthening the National Firearms Act review and determination process
- Strengthening oversight of homemade guns, ammunition, and silencers
- Giving the Consumer Product Safety Commission authority to regulate guns and ammunition for safety
- Repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act
Read the report: “The Gun Industry in America” by Chelsea Parsons, Eugenio Weigend Vargas, and Rukmani Bhatia
- “Dangerous Gaps in Gun Laws Exposed by the Coronavirus Gun Sale Surge” by Chelsea Parsons and Rukmani Bhatia
- “Gun Theft in the United States: A State-by-State Analysis” by Chelsea Parsons and Eugenio Weigend Vargas
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Adam Peck at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcepa or 914-874-7887.