The Intercept claims California cops are buying guns from criminals

The Intercept claims California cops are buying guns from criminals
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

There are laws on the books regarding how firearm dealers handle the sale of guns. There are a lot of them, and mistakes happen. When they do, and the ATF finds them, these dealers may be cited for it. They’re not criminals or anything, just people who had some clerical issues.

Yet a piece over at The Intercept seemingly argues that these dealers aren’t just criminals but criminals selling guns to California police agencies.

LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES across California have spent millions in taxpayer funds purchasing weapons from dealers with a history of failing to comply with federal firearms regulations, according to a new analysis by the nonprofit Brady: United Against Gun Violence.

The analysis reveals that at least 90 California law enforcement agencies have spent more than $20 million buying firearms, ammunition, and other gear from at least six federally licensed firearms dealers with a history of violating firearms laws — including failing to report sales involving multiple weapons, a key indicator for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in identifying straw purchasers and potential firearms trafficking.

“Using taxpayer money to buy guns from dealers with a history of noncompliance with gun safety laws is counterproductive, to say the least,” said Erica Rice, program manager for Brady’s Combating Crime Guns Initiative.

The review is part of Brady’s ongoing Gun Store Transparency Project, a collection of thousands of records from the ATF regarding enforcement actions the agency has taken against licensed gun sellers for serious violations of federal law. The nonprofit reviewed six years of law enforcement purchasing records obtained via public records requests made by the American Friends Service Committee as part of a project tracing the militarization of police agencies in California. Brady then cross-checked those records against ATF inspection reports to reveal that dozens of law enforcement agencies have purchased goods from dealers whose practices may be putting public safety at risk.

Except that Brady’s project can’t differentiate between clerical issues and dealers explicitly and actively breaking the law to sell guns.

Now, part of that is because groups like Brady don’t understand anything about the firearm industry, nor do they want to. In their minds, anything that’s not perfect compliance is little different from selling guns to gangbangers out the back of the gun store.

And that’s why they can’t understand why California law enforcement agencies are buying guns from these companies.

The truth is that most of these are paperwork errors and these cops understand that. So, when these dealers offer the best price for a given set of weapons, that’s who they buy their guns from.

Understand, the ATF is not friendly toward gun owners or gun dealers. There’s a reason that pretty much everyone in the gun community wants to see the ATF disbanded. It’s not because they’re our buddies. There’s an antagonistic relationship at work there.

And that matters because due to that antagonistic relationship, if these dealers were really being egregious at not following the law, the ATF would have shut them down.

They didn’t, which should tell you plenty.

Then again, no one at Brady or The Intercept would bother to learn any of that.