During the last two and a half years, US gun manufacturers have had more than 16,000 guns go "missing," according to a new report and are likely a "vast undercount" of total numbers actually lost, frequently ending up in the gun trafficking industry.
The report, Missing Guns: Lost and Dangerous (pdf), was just released by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, using August 2011 data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tbacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The data shows from 2009 to mid-2011, at least 16,485 firearms, an average of at least 18 firearms every day, vanished from gun manufacturers without any record of legal sale.
Prized by criminals, the report adds some of these guns are virtually untraceable, as they may disappear from gun manufacturers before even been stamped with a serial number.
“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, acting president of the Brady Center, in a statement. “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 did not specify which gun manufacturers were responsible for the largest number of missing guns.
Gun manufacturers and dealers are able to operate without security and inventory controls, thanks to weak federal laws.
Although the ATF proposed an inventory rule for gun manufacturers and dealers in 2000 requiring them to conduct one physical firearm inventory each year for accountability, the gun lobby went into action.
In 2004, the Tiahrt amendment was passed by Congress, prohibiting requirements by ATF for gun manufacturers to track their inventory. The amendment, named for then-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kansas) and still in law today, has long been an issue for the Brady Campaign, which has called for a repeal of the amendment.
Also included in the Tiahrt Amendment is a secrecy provision excluding public and media requests for data on missing guns from manufacturers and dealers, including which gun manufacturers are responsible for the “missing”, the report added.