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First comprehensive federal firearms crime report released in 20 years

First comprehensive federal firearms crime report released in 20 years

Most Detailed Federal Report A more than two-decade look at guns and crime shows a shrinking variance between the time a gun was purchased and the time it was recovered from a crime scene, indicating that the number of legally purchased firearms is increasing across the country. are increasingly being used in crimes of

It also documented a spike in the use of conversion devices that fire a semiautomatic gun like a machine gun, along with increased seizures of so-called ghost guns, privately made firearms that are difficult to trace.

The report comes at a time when the nation is grappling with a rise in violent crime, particularly involving guns.

Much of the data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report has not previously been widely available, and its release is intended to help police and policymakers reduce gun violence, said director Steve Dettlebach. “Information is power,” he said.

The report shows that 54% of guns recovered by police at crime scenes in 2021 were purchased within three years, a double-digit increase since 2019. A rapid change may indicate illegal gun trafficking or straw purchases – when someone who can legally buy a gun buys the gun to sell it to someone who cannot legally own a gun. The increase was largely driven by guns purchased less than a year ago.

The overall number of new guns in the US increased significantly during that time, as gun sales broke records during the coronavirus pandemic.

The report states that most of the guns used in the crimes have changed since their purchase. It also found what Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco called an epidemic of stolen guns: More than 1.07 million firearms were reported stolen between 2017 and 2021. Almost all of them, 96%, were from private individuals.

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Meanwhile, the report also notes a more than five-fold increase in the number of devices that convert a legal semi-automatic weapon into an illegal full automatic one. Between 2012 and 2016, the ATF recovered 814 of them, but that number rose to 5,414 during the five-year period documented in the report.

Last April, a conversion device was used in a mass shooting in Sacramento that killed six people and injured 12 in what officials described as a shootout between rival gangs.

The document also traces the rise of “ghost guns”, privately made firearms without serial numbers that are increasingly turning up at crime scenes across the country.

The ATF tracked more than 19,000 privately made firearms in 2021, more than double the number from a year earlier. The jump is a result in part of the agency encouraging police to dispatch weapons so that they can be traced, even though they usually don’t give as much information as normal firearms. The weapons have unique ballistics and other characteristics that may be useful to investigators.

Attorney General Merrick Garland asked the ATF to conduct the first comprehensive study of criminal gun trafficking in more than 20 years.

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