Even Hillary Clinton has to first concede that the vast majority of federally licensed firearms retailers (FFLs) are law-abiding business owners that comply with a complex, government-mandated regulatory system. But, the facts are not stopping Hillary Clinton from misrepresentation and vilification in pursuit of her gun-control agenda and playing to her political base.
“But a few bad actors are responsible for supplying the vast majority of guns used in crimes — and we need to shut them down,” Mrs. Clinton said in a response to a questionnaire from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Clinton then referenced a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) statistic saying, “Indeed, nearly 90 percent of guns recovered on crime scenes in America come from just 5 percent of gun dealers in America. We know who these bad actors are. But we rarely revoke a gun dealer’s license, even if they break the law.”
These comments represent a purposeful misrepresentation of ATF trace data that meets her goal of taking the attention off criminal activity and what it is involved to actually fight crime, while villainizing lawful businesses. And if a few firearms retailers are closed down, well that just proves her point, doesn’t it?
So, for Mrs. Clinton’s benefit, we are pleased to provide this quick refresher course on why traces are not an indicator of wrongdoing with responses coming directly from the ATF’s own material.
Hillary Clinton: “But a few bad actors are responsible for supplying the vast majority guns used in crimes — and we need to shut them down.”
ATF: “It is misleading to suggest that a gun dealer is corrupt because a large percentage of the guns sold in his store are subsequently used in crime. Many other factors – including high volume of sales, the type of inventory carried and whether the gun is located in a high crime area – contribute to the percentages cited by the Brady campaign.”
Hillary Clinton: “Indeed, nearly 90 percent of guns recovered on crime scenes in America come from just 5 percent of gun dealers in America. We know who these bad actors are.”
ATF: “Gun traces, for example, indicate only that a gun has come to the attention of law enforcement. They do not automatically implicate a dealer or purchaser in any wrongdoing. Large volume gun dealers will by their very frequency of sales have more guns come to the attention of law enforcement than a dealer who sells relatively few firearms.”
ATF points out that firearms are normally traced to the first retail seller, and do not generally represent how they were acquired before use in crime. In fact, the vast majority of guns used in crime are obtained through illegal means well after the initial sale. The “time to crime” for traced guns, meaning the interval between lawful sale after a background check and its trace is, on average, approximately 11 years.
And lastly, the presidential aspirant’s claim that “we rarely revoke a gun dealer’s license, even if they break the law,” is false, as was demonstrated recently by Badger Guns in Wisconsin losing its FFL for not following the law.
It is easy to find an enemy to blame in politics and we can see that tactic in use by Mrs. Clinton who picked up the inaccurate narrative from an anti-gun organization. What is difficult is finding solutions to criminal violence that actually address root causes. We have yet to see Mrs. Clinton go there, which is unfortunate, but not surprising.