1. VCDL quoted in Washington Post article on trafficked guns
** BREAKING: I just learned that I will be on Washington Post Radio today at 5 PM **
I was interviewed last night by Allison Klein with the Washington Post.
The article is about some new data from the BATFE showing that Virginia is a "leading" source of guns that are later found in some states.
However, in DC, for example, more guns were traced back to Maryland than Virginia.
The trace data doesn't differentiate between guns purchased illegally in VA and stolen guns that were originally purchased legally in VA. Trace data also includes information on guns that were simply checked for stolen that weren't stolen nor used in a crime.
Looking at New York: 1,784 guns traced came from New York. 530 were traced to Virginia, but 461 to Pennsylvania, 443 to Georgia, 410 to South Carolina. Heck even 107 were traced to California!
Picking another east coast state at random - Massachusetts: 334 guns from Massachusetts, 99 guns from New Hampshire, 65 from Maine, 57 from Florida, 55 from Georgia, 43 from Virginia.
In Connecticut, more guns came from New York than any other state except Connecticut! Explain that Mr. Bloomberg. The breakdown: 794 from Connecticut, 34 from New York, 29 from Georgia, 28 each from Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida.
In Rhode Island, 102 guns came from Rhode Island, 18 from Massachusetts, 8 from New Hampshire, 7 from Georgia, 6 from Virginia. They even had 3 from Alaska ;-)
In North Carolina, 5,511 guns came from North Carolina, 327 from South Carolina, 301 from Virginia. 45 came from New York, Mr. Bloomberg.
Compared to the number of guns sold in Virginia, the number showing up in other states is minuscule.
Also, when looking at the time from initial purchase to gun trace, the vast majority of the traces are on guns over 3 years old. That sounds like a good number of the traced guns were stolen.
In the end, looking at this data just confirms that Virginia needs to get rid of its One-Gun-A-Month law, as it isn't doing anything useful. VCDL knew that, the data just proves us right.
Poking around with the data, I'm just not seeing Virginia standing out that much. What I am seeing is that criminals in New York have a network setup in quite a few states. Perhaps Bloomberg should take care of his New York criminals and shut down the pipeline from his end? That would do a lot to lower the amount of illegal drugs coming into Virginia from New York, too.
In Study Of Gun Traffic, Va. Stands Out
By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; Page A01
Law enforcement authorities traced more than 10,000 guns recovered in Virginia, Maryland and the District last year -- and nearly half came from Virginia, according to federal data released yesterday. [The majority came from Maryland - PVC]
Virginia also was among the top sources of guns recovered by authorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina, the data show. In New York, more recovered guns came from Virginia than from any other outside state -- roughly one of 11 traced.
"Somebody coined I-95 'the iron pipeline,' " said Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which released the report yesterday. "There's a lot of traffic moving up and down 95."
The ATF gathered information from police agencies across the country and compiled state-by-state reports detailing types of offenses and where firearms originated. The ATF traces nearly 300,000 guns a year to determine where they were sold to customers.
**Most of the guns traced by the ATF came from the states where they were recovered, the agency said.** [From what I have seen that is the lion's share of guns. - PVC] The vast majority of guns tied to Virginia were also recovered there. But Virginia was the second-leading source for many other states along the East Coast.
Gun control advocates have complained for years that the state has fewer restrictions than other jurisdictions do. New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) has alleged that illegal gun sales in Virginia contribute to crime in his city.
The ATF report does not provide breakdowns indicating how many of the traced guns were purchased legally. Authorities said the overwhelming majority of guns traced were used in crimes.
J. Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the Virginia attorney general's office, said he could not comment on the report without reading it. But he said the office is satisfied with the state's laws in general. "Virginia has a very effective law enforcement system," he said. [Agreed - PVC]
Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, said he was surprised that Virginia's guns were turning up in significant numbers in other states -- 530 in New York, 301 in North Carolina, 140 in New Jersey, 110 in Pennsylvania, and so on.
"We have stricter laws than a lot of these states where the guns are showing up," Van Cleave said. "In Virginia, we require two forms of identification, which some other states don't require."
Yesterday's report marked the first time in recent years that the ATF has released such statistics. As a result, officials said, it was difficult to say whether last year's tallies fit a larger pattern.
In a statement, the ATF said it released the data to "provide the public with insight into firearm recoveries within the United States and its territories." Michael J. Sullivan, the agency's acting director, said the public has a "real interest and appetite" for information about the agency's findings.
Tracking weapons is one of the ATF's primary tasks. "A lot of investigative leads come up when you trace a firearm," Campbell said. "If we can go to the source of that firearm, we might be able to track it back to the black market."
In Virginia, authorities traced about 5,100 guns recovered there last year. Of those, 4,039 came from the state, and 72 were from Maryland.
In Maryland, authorities traced about 4,100 guns. Of those, about 2,300 came from the state and 448 from Virginia.
In the District, which has one of the toughest gun laws in the country, authorities traced nearly 1,100 guns. Of those, 289 were from Maryland and 277 from Virginia. The District was the only city analyzed in the ATF's report.
Last year in the District, about 80 percent of 169 homicides were committed with firearms.
"If we had less guns on the street, more people would be alive today," said D.C. police spokeswoman Traci Hughes. [Guns are already illegal in DC. Gun bans don't work, do they Ms. Hughes? - PVC]
The District's 30-year-old gun ban could be tested in coming months in the Supreme Court. The city is asking the high court to review a ruling that struck down its prohibition against residents keeping handguns in their homes.
The ATF data show that, despite the strict law, more than 1,800 guns were recovered in the District last year, including 47 tied to homicides.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), Prince George's County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) and D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) recently announced an initiative to crack down on illegal gun trafficking. Authorities in Maryland have struggled to reduce the number of sales involving "straw purchasers," who buy firearms for people legally barred from having them.
Virginia lawmakers have been squabbling with Bloomberg. The New York mayor armed undercover agents with cameras and sent them into gun stores in Virginia and five other states to conduct straw purchases. Based on the investigations, New York City filed lawsuits against 27 gun dealers, including seven in Virginia. Some went out of business.
Virginia's politically influential gun rights groups were furious, and they persuaded the Republican-controlled General Assembly to intervene. Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a law that says Virginia or federal officials have to be present before such stings can be conducted. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) signed the law in March. [What - we're supposed to like it when vigilantes come into Virginia and do an end run on our police? - PVC]
In April, Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R) sent Bloomberg what amounted to a cease-and-desist letter warning him he would be guilty of a felony if the unsupervised gun stings continued.
Bloomberg responded by accusing McDonnell of defending "rogue gun dealers."
If you would like to look at state-by-state trace data, click here: