Pile of Guns Sold by D.C. Police Ended Up at Crime Scenes

AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

Anti-gun groups often try to paint gun stores as the source of violent crime. That's especially true if a number of guns sold by a particular dealer end up at crime scenes. They argue that it's evidence that the dealer in question is doing something shady or, at a minimum, not being as observant as they should have.


Now, there's been a case or two where one of these supposed problem dealers is someone I know, so I know better, but that's still an awfully small sample size.

I suspect that most such folks would really like it if you had to buy guns from law enforcement. After all, if the police are the gun dealers, you just know they're going to do everything above board and that would mean those guns wouldn't turn up at crime scenes, right?


Heh. Think again, bucko:

For at least seven months in 2020 and 2021, the D.C. area’s largest police department was the only legal gun dealer in the nation’s capital. It was the only place D.C. residents could legally get a handgun.

That much was reported at the time, but now the News4 I-Team has the federal documents proving a concerning number of guns the Metropolitan Police Department helped bring into the District ended up at crime scenes. So many guns recovered at crime scenes, in such a brief period, that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives placed D.C. police into a program designed to give extra scrutiny to dealers with higher levels of so-called crime guns.

MPD’s gun dealing was different than what many gun owners may be used to. Theirs was not a typical gun store with display cases and racks of guns to peruse. When a D.C. resident wants a legal handgun, they usually go to a gun store in Virginia or Maryland or to an online site. They pick the gun out, pay for it and have it shipped to a licensed dealer in D.C. – at the time, D.C. police headquarters. That D.C. dealer plays an important role in the sale process as the only place a federal background check is conducted, looking for past crimes or other disqualifications.

In recent weeks, the group Brady United Against Gun Violence released hundreds of letters sent by the ATF to gun dealers across the country that sold 25 or more guns recovered at crime scenes in a single year. The I-Team found one sent to MPD in May 2022. ATF calls it the Demand 2 Program.


According to Brady, just 2% of gun dealers across the country are in the ATF program any given year. The I-Team found 14 dealers in D.C., Northern Virginia, and the Maryland suburbs. That includes both currently licensed dealers in D.C. along with MPD from the time when it was an active gun dealer.

That means at least 25 of the guns MPD helped sell to D.C. residents in 2020 and 2021 were recovered at crime scenes in 2021 alone.


Now, one of two things here is going on.

One is that MPD isn't really doing what it's supposed to do in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The other, however, is far more likely. That would be that criminals aren't getting their guns from gun stores and there's jack-ass the MPD could have done to prevent it.

Now, Brady tends to fall into the first camp, though it doesn't explicitly say so here. It has no issue blaming every other gun store that meets this criteria, even if it's not quite ready to say the same thing about MPD itself.

Yet, let's note that the MPD and licensed gun stores in the district made this list. What are the odds that literally everyone who ever sold a gun in the District of Columbia, including the police, was intentionally arming criminals?

Pretty slim, right?

Or maybe criminals are obtaining those guns through some illicit means and there are just so many criminals that it's not hard for 25 firearms to show up at crime scenes.

See, if you ask me, 25 is a pretty low threshold, especially when you consider the lifetime of a gun store. A store that sells thousands of guns per year – most of them, if we're being honest – could well have a few end up somewhere that they get stolen, or they're the victim of an intelligent straw buyer.


Hell, a particularly bad year could see 25 guns sold over the course of a decade ending up at a crime scene. So yeah, it's all pretty silly.

But those are the standards Brady wants to play with, so sure, let's play.

That means the MPD has far more to account for because they were only a dealer for seven months. For there to be 25 guns sold during that timeframe to show up at crime scenes is really indicative of something, and based on Brady's continued efforts to vilify gun dealers – it says it's not anti-dealer, but we all know better – then MPD officials have got some explaining to do.

Or, conversely, Brady needs to sit down, shut up, and stop preening expertise in a subject it doesn't understand.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member