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Commerce in Firearms in the United States, February 2000

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2000
80 pages
This report presents data on the gun market and describes the regulatory enforcement programs of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to prevent gun trafficking.
The annual sales of about 4.5 million new guns include approximately 2 million handguns. An estimated 2 million second-hand firearms are sold each year as well. The population of licensed firearms manufacturers, importers, distributors, and dealers increased from 161,927 in 1975 to 284,117 in 1992. Implementation of 1993 and 1994 Federal legislation that added several safeguards to existing provisions resulted in a decline in the number of Federal firearms licensees to 103,942 in 1999. This total included 80,570 retail dealers or pawnbrokers. Two developments in the past 5 years have brought law enforcement and the firearms industry into a new era in reducing illegal access to guns. First, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 prevents prohibits persons from buying guns from licensed firearms dealers by requiring these dealers to do background checks on purchasers. Second, ATF has intensified its focus on illegal gun trafficking. Expanded tracing of crime guns by State and local law enforcement officials and congressionally mandated reporting of firearms stolen from Federal firearms licensees have aided this effort. In addition, ATF’s tracing data and analysis have allowed ATF to strengthen both its criminal and regulatory enforcement programs. Tables, figures, footnotes, and appended tables and background information