More than 16,000 guns were “lost” from gun manufacturers’ inventories over the last two years, according to a report by a gun control advocacy group.
The report, released by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, pulled data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and found that 16,485 guns left the inventories of nearly 4,500 licensed gun manufacturers throughout the country without a record of them ever being sold.
In 2004 Congress passed the Tiahrt amendment – named for its sponsor then-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) – which prohibited the ATF from requiring gun manufacturers to track their inventory. The Brady Campaign has long advocated for a repeal of the Tiahrt amendment.
“It is shocking that gun makers are so oblivious to public safety that they lose track of thousands of guns every year,” said Dennis Henigan, the acting president of the Brady Center. “ Given the lethality of its product, the gun industry has a special duty to act responsibly. Instead, it has a scandalous record of carelessness.”
The report states that the unaccounted for guns are often used in crimes because a trace of the weapon is not as likely to lead law enforcement officials back to the criminal.
“This lack of any security or inventory requirement for gun manufacturers and dealers makes it easy for gun sellers to claim falsely that firearms they have sold illegally and “off-the-books,” were lost or stolen,” the report states.
“Firearms that disappear from gun manufacturers’ plants without records of sale are frequently trafficked by gun traffickers and prized by criminals. Guns taken from gun manufacturing plants may also be removed before they have been stamped with serial numbers, making them virtually untraceable.”
The report was not able to identify which specific gun manufacturers had the greatest number of missing guns.
The Brady Center released the report in the wake of an internal shakeup within the ATF and the Justice Department.
Three top officials, including the acting head of the ATF Kenneth Melson, left their positions as a result of their role in the botched Fast and Furious gun tracking operation, which attempted to sell thousands of guns to known and suspected straw buyers for Mexican drug cartels. But officials declined to provide the weapons and their buyers with adequate surveillance, allowing the guns to flow into the hands of criminals on both sides of the border.
The ATF has been without a Senate confirmed director since 2006 largely because of lobbying efforts by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which views some of the agency’s power as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.