You have to hand it to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. They sure know how to make a media splash, don’t they? Most organizations – such as the federal government – use the days just before before a three-day holiday weekend to announce something they’d rather draw as little attention to as possible. Something embarassing. Something they want to slip under the radar as much as possible while people are busy doing other things. Which makes you wonder why they chose to make their announcement that US gun manufacturers have ‘lost’ more than 16,000 guns since 2009 right before the Labor Day weekend…

Was it just piss-poor PR practice that led the Bradys to make their big announcement as the rest of the country was heading out of town or planning barbecues and that last trip to the beach? Or was it something else? Was it simply that even they knew that when you look at their “big news”, there really isn’t any there there?

The reason for the announcement: to rail against the Tiahrt Amendment and claim that the ATF is woefully underfunded with the “shocking” revelation that US gun makers had “lost 16,485 guns in 30 moths from the beginning of 2009 through June of this year.”

 “It is shocking that gun makers are so oblivious to public safety that they lose track of thousands of guns every year,” said Dennis Henigan, the acting president of the Brady Center. “ Given the lethality of its product, the gun industry has a special duty to act responsibly.  Instead, it has a scandalous record of carelessness.”

Obviously, gun makers opened their loading docks and let anyone who wants to stroll into their warehouses walk out with whatever they can grab. Or so the Brady’s would have you believe. Except that when you look at that 16,485 number in a little perspective, it’s difficult to get too worked up about it.

According to the ATF, US gun makers turned out 11.4 million guns in the first half of 2010. That’s a rate of almost 23 million guns a year. And just because the Brady Campaign may need help with the math, when you extrapolate the statistic, that means in the 30 months they claim the 16,000 guns were “lost”, the American firearms industry produced about 57 million guns.

Again, the Brady Campaign goes to great lengths to cry poor on behalf of the ATF, claiming that due to their meager budget, the agency is only able to inspect about 20% of these manufacturers each year. You can see how it might be difficult getting to all of the gun makers while running guns to Mexican drug cartels and still handle alcohol, tobacco and explosives. The poor dears.

The reason the BCPGV claim the ATF is underfunded is to back up their argument that their 16,485 number is actually “a vast undercount” of the real number of guns that went missing. So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, shall we? We can afford to be magnanimous. If ATF only gets to 20% of gun makers each year as the Bradys claim, in thirty months the ATF should have been able cover about half of them. So let’s double their ‘lost’ number and round it up to 33,000. Just for giggles.

And because we’re throwing around a lot of figures, let’s recap. In the 30 months the Bradys are talking about – again granting that their numbers are accurate – 57 million guns were made in the US. And 33,000 were “lost” by those same manufacturers. That’s a shrinkage rate of .00058. Yes, that’s .058%. And that’s a mind-blowingly small number. Miniscule. Tiny. It’s a manufacturing and inventory shrinkage rate that’s likely the envy of virtually every other manufacturing industry that produces products in similar volumes.

Naturally, the good folks at the Brady Campaign figure that all of those lost guns actually did walk out the factory back door in lunch boxes and backpacks. They don’t even entertain the possibility that a portion of the ATF’s 16,000 number are guns that were actually damaged, defective, destroyed or simply misaccounted for. Just as happens in any other manufacturing business.

Now let’s stipulate that, yes, if your business is making firearms, you probably have more than the average firm’s responsibility to make sure your inventory doesn’t walk out the door. But let’s also acknowledge that the value and portability of that product makes it an attractive target for those with larceny in mind. No matter how good your controls, some inventory will walk.

But that’s the real world, and the Bradys don’t live in anything approaching the real world. They live in the land of public advocacy, a place where evil gun manufacturers save every dime they can on security and control procedures and don’t give a damn what the employees can pilfer.

They also seem to think that gun manufacturers don’t have any other incentives to put those controls in place and manage their product. Incentives like the profit motive. Incentives like avoiding lawsuits like the recent one Kahr settled. Never mind the PR hit. And that is, of course, patently ridiculous. If the gun makers actually ran the kinds of loose operations the Bradys claim, the number of missing guns would easily have been ten times as large. If not more.

And that may be why, again, the Brady Campaign didn’t trumpet their earth-shattering findings today, when the country gets back to business. Instead they issued a press release about an insignificant statistic, making wild claims that don’t pass the the most basic smell test. When you think about it, this could be an indication that even they know they really don’t have anything. Not that they’ll admit that. Too much funding depends on their continued manufactured outrage and moral preening.

11 Responses to Brady Campaign vs. The Real World

  1. Are you sure that was Friday? I thought it was a couple days before that.

    Your sarcasm is really uncalled for, Daniel.

    “Truly shocking, right? Gun makers have virtually opened their loading docks and let anyone who wants to stroll into their warehouses and walk out with whatever they can grab. Or so they’d have you believe. Only when you look at that 16,485 number in a little perspective, it’s difficult to get too worked up about it.”

    You see, the 16,000 figure came from a small sampling. If you multiplied it out to get a proper rate, not the silly one you indicated, it might very well be significant.

    Besides. the old argument you guys keep falling back on is bogus. You use it about kids killing each other with daddy’s gun, you use it with murders even.

    It’s bogus because no mantter how small the percentage is after you get done manupulating id down bY dividing it by some unrelated and gigantic number, IT’S STILL TOO BIG.

    It’s still too big because much of it is preventable.

    • “It’s bogus because no mantter how small the percentage is after you get done manupulating id down bY dividing it by some unrelated and gigantic number, IT’S STILL TOO BIG.”

      You just proved the point of Dan’s article. You disregard actual data as being “unrelated” and admit that any shrinkage at all is unacceptable. Which means that your policy preferences do not reflect reality, they’re actually rooted in the kind of magical thinking that most of us leave behind in childhood.

      It’s still too big because much of it is preventable.”

      So you’re saying what exactly? That gun manufacturers just allow their products to be stolen? They willing forego profit just for the joy they get from criminal violence?

    • Drunk driving is preventable. Outlaw cars. Or alcohol. Blame everyone except the driver.

      Sorry, blog regulars, I know this is a short and glib response, but truly what more needs to be said? Arguments can’t be had against someone whose ideology is based on eradicating freedom for the sake of (very) questionable security. Either you’re willing to accept that with technology, society, and the nature of life in general, there will be accidents and deaths related to every single thing under the sun. Some are preventable, but at what cost?

      The funny thing is most of us here are all about prevention. Look how many innocent lives legal ownership has saved. That’s what I consider prevention. This concept just doesn’t sit well with gun grabbers because it means there are no victims to exploit, personal responsibility is further proven, and they themselves lose credibility as professional victims.

    • “You see, the 16,000 figure came from a small sampling. If you multiplied it out to get a proper rate, not the silly one you indicated, it might very well be significant.”

      Could you please explain the source of your ” small sampling ” ? I think the writer of this article hit the figures pretty well. Of all the guns manufactured during the 30 months in question, 16,000 is a small percentage to be considered lost. What other sources of information do you have to calculate by ? Is thre something we missed ?

      Or are you simply pulling these numbers out of your butt ?

      “It’s bogus because no mantter how small the percentage is after you get done manupulating id down bY dividing it by some unrelated and gigantic number, IT’S STILL TOO BIG.”

      I truly would like to know what your source is, please.

  2. If you work in manufacturing (as opposed to, I don’t know, serving french fries), you’d know that this is most likely an accounting error. Double counting in-process work, reworks, discards, etc. would easily make up 2 to 5% of total production even under the best circumstances.

    I’ve spent more time than I like to recall working with accountant types trying to explain how inventory is done, only to have discrepancies show up monthly needed management explanation. It happens, but I highly doubt any significant number of actual, finished, working firearms just walked out the gate.

  3. Little or nothing ever just walks out…the vast majority of thefts originate somewhere in transit. Shippers steal merchandise with shocking regularity. Some times we see team efforts to steal between employees inside and shipping company employees outside (drivers or at the terminal). But you know, there are laws against theft…

  4. These “missing” guns must be turning up at crime scenes all over the country.

    Once the Gunrunner – Fast & Furious final tally is in, the number of real guns leaked to the Sinaloas will far eclipse the number of bookkeeping errors noted in Dan’s post. We know of 2000 real, actual guns allowed to walk from gun dealers in the border states. Now we’re finding out about guns allowed to walk from a dealer in Indiana. The cartels are well established in over 200 American cities. If only 100 guns were walked in each city, well, you do the math. Or am I supposed to believe that ATF didn’t have cooperative dealers in any city other than Indianapolis?

  5. I’d say most if not all of a gun company’s actual shrinkage (that is, theft) would be due to employees walking out with something, or thefts after things are on the truck. Most of that number is likely a bookkeeping problem–a gun goes into production but fails final test or similar issues. I don’t see hundreds of completed guns walking out of all the major manufacturers every year.

    Saying 1 is too many is basically just saying nobody should be allowed to produce guns. If that’s what you believe, I think you may be on the wrong site. Not only are almost all the people who post her pro-gun, it seems like most are also realists.

    • Agreed, every manufacturer of goods loses a percentage to theft – whether through employees or others. Also, I’ll bet some of the losses mentioned here are the result of poor inventory accounting or manufacturing mistakes that are “recycled.” Yes, guns are a product that the manufacturer should probably keep track of but if Daniel’s numbers are right, this is a tiny percentage of the total number made.

  6. Don is quite correct. In manufacturing, parts go through a series of counts and are not always accounted for after human error, accounting mistakes, rework, last minute changes, failure to report scrap, and the occasional Frankenstein made from two nonfunctioning parts. As a result, pieces go “missing”. At my plant, parts are simply too large to walk out or be lost. Yet, missing product still occurs at a higher rate than these firearm manufacturers. Looks like they’re doing a great job!

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