Virginia gun dealers: Small number supply most guns tied to crimes
A Washington Post analysis revealed that 40 gun dealers in Virginia, or 1 percent of the 3,400 licensed in the state since 1998, accounted for 60 percent of the guns sold in-state and recovered by police in that time.
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D & R Arms, a gun store in Portsmouth, transformed over the past seven years from a modest family-owned business into one of the state's top sellers of "crime guns," leading Virginia in the category of how many of its guns moved quickly from sales counter to crime scene.
Gun purchased at D & R and recovered in a police matter.
Gun recovered less than three years since its original purchase.
The "time to crime" metric is one of the benchmarks developed by the ATF to help identify criminal diversion of weapons based upon how quickly they were recovered after they were sold. The quicker a gun is recovered after it is sold, the greater the likelihood that the original buyer had criminal intent, studies have found. Nationwide, guns seized and successfully traced on average have been on the streets for more than 10 years before recovery.
D & R had relatively few guns recovered in its first 10 years of business. Starting in 2004, the dealer had a surge of traces.
Virtually all guns used in crimes started out with a sale from a licensed gun dealer, either at a retail store or at a gun show. Many criminals want new guns, which are guaranteed to work and are not tainted by their use in past crimes. But felons are prohibited by law from owning guns. To get new firearms, criminals must acquire them on the streets or get someone else to go into a store and make the purchase, a process known as a "straw buy." Store owners say they work hard to prevent such sales.
Shop owner Robert Marcus said he turns away a suspicious buyer almost every day.
Investigators working for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg went undercover as straw buyers at gun stores. This attempt to make a straw buy failed at a Georgia store.