ATF: Average “Time to Crime” for “Crime Guns” is 11.2 Years

 ATF-recovered guns (courtesy chron.com)

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (and Really Big Fires) has just released their 2012 statistics on “crime guns.” Click here to view the “firearms trace data.” Note the difference between the term “crime guns” and “firearms trace data.” There isn’t any. The ATF labels any gun run through their eTrace system a “crime gun”—whether or not it was used in a crime. For example, firearms reported stolen (but not used in a crime) and firearms “observed” by law enforcement at a gun show (but not used in a crime). As Wikipedia reports, info from this intentionally misleading statistical sample is inherently flawed, anyway . . .

Firearms trace data, however, are limited and may be biased by several factors:

• traced firearms are generally recovered by law enforcement, and they may not be representative of firearms possessed and used by criminals;

• there remains significant variation over time and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction as to “when, why, and how” a firearm is recovered and selected to be traced; and

• a substantial percentage of recovered firearms cannot be successfully traced for several reasons

In the lead-up to the death of US Border Patrol Brian Terry in 2010—gunned down by drug thugs wielding firearms enabled by the ATF—the Bureau was shamelessly, maliciously manipulating data on the guns recovered by the Mexican police and armed forces.

The ATF intentionally left out non-eTraced guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes (including thousands of fully-automatic firearms sold to the Mexican police and Army by the U.S. government) to claim that 90 percent of all guns used by Mexican cartel members came from US gun stores. They labelled this transfer the “iron river.”

It was bullshit. The ATF was eventually forced to walk back the numbers. And now, once again, the ATF’s manipulating stats to fluff its feathers and assist gun grabbers seeking to portray America as awash in “crime guns.” Here’s the Bureau’s press release on the stats:

ATF’s National Tracing Center (NTC) is the nation’s only crime gun tracing facility. The NTC provides critical information that assists domestic and international law enforcement agencies solve firearms crimes, detect firearms trafficking and identify trends with respect to intrastate, interstate and international movement of crime guns. The NTCtraced more than 344,000 crime guns in calendar year 2012.

See? There were 344 thousand crime guns in 2012! If you’re looking for a shred of truth in the ATF’s anti-gun agit-prop click here and then click on the bottom link to check out their “time to crime” numbers. 

According to the survey, the average “time to crime” (the period between first sale and police recovery) is 11.2 years. That’s the average. Even if we accept the idea that all the guns in this database were actually used in a crime, which we can’t, we can only conclude that criminals are using old guns.

Or hold onto their guns for a long, long time. If you turned off the metaphorical spigot today it would still take more than a decade to see any appreciable drop in criminal access to firearms.

Statistically speaking. that’s a stupid statement. But the main point remains: the ATF are a bunch of lying jack-booted thugs who will stop at nothing to subvert Americans’ gun rights. The sooner the ATF is folded into the FBI, loses its power as a federal agency and disappears, the better.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

28 Responses to ATF: Average “Time to Crime” for “Crime Guns” is 11.2 Years

  1. avatarJPD says:

    100% agree with that last paragraph. Only problem is the FBI is nearly as worthless as ATF. Corrupt, self serving, agencies that break the law, violate the oath they take as officers. and abuse their power daily.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      So then… we should put in under the OMB, or the Commerce Department!

      But their rhetoric needs to change the statistic. Instead of “stop gun violence now”, it needs to be, “stop gun violence 11.2 years from now”!

      • avatarJPD says:

        The place to “put” every government agency, politician, and bureaucrat, is under direct supervision of the people. First, limit their power. Second, create extremely stiff penalties for any abuse of power. Term limits on all politicians. New legislation must be presented in plain language. The citizens get to see it for 90 days, before presented for legislation (giving us time to contact our representatives).

        You get the idea. Power does not corrupt…..”Corrupt People Seek Out Positions of Power”.

      • avatarJason says:

        I say we put them under the WPA, the CCC (not to be confused with the CCC–yes there were two), or the FWA. While we’re at it, we can move the FBI, DEA, ICE, SSA, HUD, and all the rest of the alphabet soup agencies under the WPA…or any other defunct agency, I’m not picky.

  2. avatarKyle says:

    “But the main point remains: the ATF are a bunch of lying jack-booted thugs who will stop at nothing to subvert Americans’ gun rights. The sooner the ATF is folded into the FBI, loses its power as a federal agency and disappears, the better.”
    I heart this statement.

  3. avatarMilsurp Collector says:

    surprise, surprise.

  4. It just proves that the whole idea of background checks is stupid.

  5. avatarNate says:

    There should also be some sort of ban on hiring former ATF agents when FBI/ATF are merged. Maybe add an amendment to the merger bill that would require congressional approval of all firearm regulations and reset the current regulations to 0. That would be an interesting legislative session to watch.

    • avatarWilliam says:

      Time for me to trot out my dear pet proposal again: a Constitutional amendment that requires, for every law enacted, they must find TWO to nullify.

      Same with gun regs.

  6. avatarBrian says:

    I don’t see why all “badge and gun” law enforcement shouldn’t be done by the FBI. It would probably lead to more accountability and oversight and better use of law enforcement resources.

    • avatarJusBill says:

      No, it would only lead to a larger FBI budget.

      Consider: Washington DC is home to more gun-carrying law enforcement entities and individuals than anywhere else in the US. And yet the homicide and violent crime rates are at the top of the list. Now do the math. More police in the wrong places at the wrong times doing the wrong things makes nobody any safer…

    • avatarRalph says:

      Merge the ATF into the EPA. Both agencies are jackbooted thugs, so they’ll get along beautifully.

      • avatarJPD says:

        Brian:

        Seriously??? The agency that has a sniper shoot unarmed women holding children (Ruby Ridge). The same group of Nazi Storm Troopers than engineered burning children and women at Waco? The agency that NEVER seems to have ANY unjustified shootings!

        Of course we all know who is there to write the so called “investigations” of these actions.

        Reminds me of some executives that have “no idea” that their personnel are stealing records, targeting conservative groups, spying on Fox and AP, letting our people die in Embassy attacks. God, the list just keeps on growing.

        • avatarBrian says:

          My theory is this: if there is one guns and badges agency then every constituency that could be abused will be focused on the same agency, allowing for a critical mass demanding good oversight, as opposes to the current alphabet soup of agencies don’t offend enough people to prompt real reform. To put it another way: the ACLU and NRA will be screaming for good oversight on the same agency for a change.

  7. avatarRalph says:

    “Time to crime” is very misleading. A firearm can be used dozens or even hundreds of times before it’s finally “recovered” and traced eleven years later. The phrase is meaningless.

  8. avatarAccur81 says:

    I never had much respect for the ATF, and my respect for the FBI has diminished greatly after their “all our shootings other than NDs are legit” study. The transparent government that Obama promised has never been achieved, and the ATF cooking numbers is further proof.

    We have a host of federal LEO agencies that are unnecessary, and the ATF, NSA, and DHS are tops on that list.

    • avatarJPD says:

      +1000.

      That’s just a start. Then the IRS, then POTUS, Supreme Court, Congress.

      Start fresh. Try a Monarchy. How about Brittany Spears as Queen? As our leader, she would be smarter, more honest, harder working than the loser we have now.

      • avatarRalph says:

        I would have voted for the young Britney Spears. The one with 17 children and the neck of a football lineman, not so much.

  9. avatardwb says:

    wait, how do they know when the gun was bought? they did not trace 344k guns manually. Anyone who thinks we dont already have a registry is mot paying attention.

  10. avatarMark N. says:

    I looked at the specific data for California, and one of the things that jumped out was that the vast majority of traces were initiated not because of a crime but merely to establish ownership unconnected to a criminal act. Only a few were connected to criminal investigations, and the reason for that is that a trace rarely if ever is going to adduce any useful data to be used in the criminal case against the guy they arrested with the gun in his possession

  11. avatarMediocrates says:

    If you turned off the metaphorical spigot today it would still take more than a decade to see any appreciable drop in criminal access to firearms.

    But if it saves one life…

  12. “Time to crime” is not only an average of 11.2 years, but the overwealming majority is more than three years. In addition if you compare the “from” states for the “crime guns” with “from states” for population migration (available at the U.S. cenus website) you will find that the number of people coming from those states far outnumbers the number of “crime guns”. Combine that with the fact that an estimated of 500,000 guns are stolen every year and it becomes readily apparent that it is not only possible, but probable that the majority of guns the ATF thinks were ‘trafficked’ were probably brought into the state by their legal owners and then later stolen.

    For an in-depth exploration of the above, and other similar matters, see: “THE
    MYTH OF BIG-TIME GUN TRAFFICKING AND THE
    OVERINTERPRETATION OF GUN TRACING DATA” http://www.uclalawreview.org/pdf/56-5-6.pdf

  13. avatarAir Force TSgt says:

    This is why we need a 12 year waiting period. So the criminals have time to cool off and think about what they are about to do…

  14. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    Guns seen at a show…?!?

    So if I’ve the local sherif over to blow up things on the 4th – a not unknown occurrence – is my weaponry (within easy reach) potential fodder for this statistic?

    Not that he’d go there, but in principle?

    BATF, go expletive your expletived, expletiving expletive of an expletive.

  15. avatarRuss Bixby says:

    My weapons are virtual spinsters. In their seventies or eighties and ne’er a crime committed – just some serious victories in the Good War.

    Poor, neglected thangs…

  16. avatarBilly Wardlaw says:

    As far as I’m concerned the ATFE could be one guy and a rubber stamp – an that asshole should be fired and replaced by a robot!

  17. avatarSouthern Cross says:

    It is known even in my part of the world that while a number of Three-Letter-Agencies want to take over the ATF’s responsibilities, such is the regard for F-Troop’s agents that none of the other agencies want to employ them.

    At least F-Troop is no longer the butt-monkey of the TLAs, that role has been taken over by the TSA.

  18. avatarJSF01 says:

    “Statistically speaking. that’s a stupid statement. But the main point remains: the ATF are a bunch of lying jack-booted thugs who will stop at nothing to subvert Americans’ gun rights. The sooner the ATF is folded into the FBI, loses its power as a federal agency and disappears, the better.” I am going to have to disagree with you here. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see the ATF disappear, but overall it would be bad for us firearm owners. If the ATF got folded into the FBI, the FBI would just continue doing the exact same thing the ATF has been doing, there would be no improvement for gun owners. In fact being part of the FBI would probably make things worse for us, because while we have been successful in cutting funding and limiting the power of the ATF due to them being stupid, trying to do the same thing to the I would be a lot less successful. On top of that they FBI could always direct specific program funding to continue enforcing there wanted firearms policy.

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