A central component of President Obama’s recent executive actions on gun control was designed to combat a problem that does not exist, a new study proves.
Less than one half of one half of a percent of guns sold by federally licensed dealers (FFLs) were stolen in 2015, a new report by the Crime Research Prevention Center shows. This represents a rate of less than 1/30th of the rate of theft for the retail industry.
But despite this, Obama in January ordered the ATF amend its rules so federally licensed gun sellers must “report when a gun from their inventory has been lost or stolen” in transit.
Obama’s decree ordering FFLs to report stolen guns won’t go far to reduce crime, as guns stolen from FFLs aren’t widely used for crime. It is, however, yet another burden imposed unfairly upon the gun industry designed to make selling guns ever so slightly more difficult, and cause the firearm industry’s “death by a thousand cuts,” says Lott.
That Obama chose to act in order to solve a problem that doesn’t exist shouldn’t be surprising, however. After all, his desire to close the “gun show loophole” was the centerpiece of his gun control executive actions taken in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. But “Federal studies show that gun shows are not a significant source of crime guns,” David Kopel, research director of the Independence Institute, said at the time.
Indeed, universal background checks designed to close the “loophole” would not have prevented “one single case” of the mass shootings that have occurred in the U.S. since 2000, noted Crime Prevention Research Center president, John Lott.
The new CRPC report looked at a March report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms which revealed that a little over 6,000 firearms were stolen in 2015. A minimum of 16 million guns were sold by federally licensed dealers in 2015, meaning that at the absolute most, less than 0.039 percent of guns sold were stolen.
However, 16 million is only the rough number of NICS background checks — multiple guns could have been purchased after each check, suggesting the percentage of guns stolen from federally licensed dealers is even less than .039 percent.
The rate of theft from federally licensed dealers is miniscule compared to the rate of theft in the retail industry at large.
The rate of theft from federally licensed dealers is miniscule compared to the rate of theft in the retail industry at large, the CPRC report notes. It highlighted the results of the National Retail Federation/University of Florida National Retail Security Survey, which showed that the rate of theft from retail stores was 1.15 percent in 2014.
A different study by Checkpoint Systems found the rate to be 1.97 percent for 2014-2015. These studies suggest then that the rate of theft at retail stores is between 29 and 51 times higher than that at federally licensed gun dealers, which only highlights the obvious ideological motivation behind Obama’s targeting guns stolen from FFLs, says Lott. When Obama ordered the ATF to amend its rules, the White House supported it with the claim that “many lost and stolen guns end up being used in crimes.”
There were 308,352 gun crimes reported to police in 2014, the CPRC notes. Assuming that each of those crime was perpetrated with a unique firearm — a fact highly unlikely — it would mean that less than one-tenth of one percent of the over 300 million guns in the U.S. were used in a crime.
In announcing Obama’s executive action, the White House stated that “in the past five years, an average of 1,333 guns recovered in criminal investigations each year were traced back to a licensee that claimed it never received the gun even though it was never reported lost or stolen either.”
Assuming around 1,333 of the 308,352 gun crimes in 2014 were committed with firearms stolen from federally licensed dealers, these stolen guns would account for less than half a percent of the guns employed in crimes. Obama’s claim that “many lost and stolen guns end up being used in crimes” is simply not true.