Politics

House Democrats ask Trump administration which gun dealers sell most firearms tied to crime

Key Points
  • The Democratic-led House Oversight Committee asked the Trump administration on Friday to name the top five gun dealers in each state responsible for selling firearms tied to crime.
  • The request comes in the wake of two weekend mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which left at least 31 people dead.
  • Elijah Cummings, the committee's chairman, made the request in a letter sent to Regina Lombardo, acting deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
AR-15 rifles are displayed on the exhibit floor during the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky.
Luke Sharett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Democratic-led House Oversight Committee asked the Trump administration on Friday to name the top five gun dealers in each state responsible for selling firearms tied to crime.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the committee's chairman, made the request in a letter sent to Regina Lombardo, acting deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The request comes in the wake of two weekend mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which left at least 31 people dead.

"The Committee is gravely concerned that current law enforcement efforts are not adequately addressing this crisis," Cummings wrote in the letter. "The Committee is seeking to better understand enforcement efforts with respect to [federal firearms licensees] that sell large numbers of guns that are used in crimes, including homicides. This investigation will inform Congress's ability to make changes in federal law that save lives."

Multiple calls to the ATF were not returned. A spokesperson for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Cummings cited a 2000 study produced by the bureau that found that 1% of gun dealers were responsible for nearly 60% of guns recovered at crime scenes. Slightly more than 5% of gun dealers were responsible for selling nearly 90% of those guns, he wrote.

The letter says that the ATF has previously released "similar information," and cited documents produced in connection with a 2017 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The Brady Center, an advocacy group, sought documents related to ATF inspections of gun dealers.

In addition to the name and location of each dealer, Cummings asked the ATF to provide the number of guns sold that were involved in crimes within five years of the sale, the ZIP codes where the guns were recovered, the number of homicides, assaults, and assault and batteries committed with the guns, and the average time between the sale of the weapons and the crime.

Cummings also asked for the ATF inspection reports for each of the dealers named, including the recommendations resulting from the inspection and any violations identified or enforcement actions taken.

Cummings gave the bureau until Aug. 22 to produce the documents.

The request comes as President Donald Trump has suggested he may push for action on gun regulation, which has long gone nowhere in Washington.

Trump said in a Friday tweet that he is in talks with congressional leaders about legislation that would require "meaningful" background checks for gun purchasers.

But Trump also said he was talking with the National Rifle Association, an influential gun rights group, which opposes expanding the federal background check system.

"I have also been speaking to the NRA, and others, so that their very strong views can be fully represented and respected," the president wrote.

In a statement, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said he was "not inclined" to discuss private conversations with the president. But he said "the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton. Worse, they would make millions of law abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones."