Image via WSIU public television/NPR
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When gun-hating bureaucrats and politicians finally ran the last gun store in Washington, D.C., out of business back in 2020, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) took over the chore of transferring firearms. What happened after that has drawn the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives—and not good attention, either.

According to a report by NBC’s News4 I-Team, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has been listed among a group of “bad apple” Federal Firearms Licensees. The list is compiled for the ATF to take a closer look at FFLs that have a high number of firearms transferred that later are recovered at crime scenes, and that’s exactly what occurred after MPD began handling transfers.

“So many guns [were] 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,” the report stated.

With no gun stores left in the District, residents were forced to buy guns from nearby states or order guns online to be shipped to MPD. Metro Police received the guns from retailers, conducted the required NICS check, then transferred the guns to the new owners.

During the roughly eight months that MPD handled the transfers, about 8,000 guns passed through the department to purchasers. And according to the report, guns later found at crime scenes raised a red flag for the ATF, causing the ATF to issue the MPD a “Demand 2 Program” letter in May 2022. That program requires FFLs that have 25 or more firearm traces a year, with a short “time to crime” of under three years, to submit an annual report to the ATF.

Time-to-crime data, often used by the ATF and FBI, is the amount of time between when a gun is sold and then is later found at a crime scene. Well over half of the guns recovered at crime scenes are recovered more than three years after the sale, and a good percentage are recovered after many more years. However, according to the NBC report, at least 25 guns MPD transferred in 2020 and 2021 were recovered at crime scenes in 2021, far sooner than the national average.

In their investigation, NBC’s News4 I-Team found the MPD to be silent about the matter, refusing to answer questions about how many guns they had transferred to crime scenes or whether they informed families of crime victims that the police had transferred the firearm used to injure their family members.

“D.C. police would not tell us how many people were assigned to the gun dealing unit,” the report added. “Nor would they say if they ever refused a sale—as is a dealer’s right.”

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Wow the ATF is going to be quite busy killing off the DC Metro Police.
    Through perseverance and theBiden backed Dettlebach hit squad I’m certain justice will prevail.

  2. This will surely be added to the lawsuits that gun dealers are waging against the ATF now as ammunition against the degree their compliance programs are designed to punish dealers. Even the DC Police can’t stay compliant to their standards.

    I hope a group of people sues the DC Police for violating their civil rights on the denials as well. That’d be pretty priceless. I mean, if “may issue” carry is invalid I can’t see why this wouldn’t be a very similar happenstance.

    Any bets on a corruption scandal breaking out where police officers get slipped extra money to make sure transfers aren’t rejected?

    • It isn’t MPD, they don’t decide whether to actually block transfer or not. The issue DC AG as well as US Attorney for DC, which do not prosecute 90% of felonies as felonies. About 95% of denial appeals are ruled in favor of buyer, thus allowing transfer. A whole LOT of bad guys in DC, massively more than any other “state,” who have been arrested for felonies, are walking around with no conviction or just a misdemeanor meaning they are not prohibited class.
      What you are seeing with this issue of “time to crime” and DC is not really about FFL regimes, gun law etc — but about a insanely general soft on crime policies of DC council and DC prosecutors

      • You know, that makes perfect sense. But still, I wonder what the MPD thinks about transferring guns to known bad actors who still manage to pass NICS because of poor prosecutorial policies. And what it is like for a bad actor to walk into a police station to get his gun…I can just see them laughing their butts off.

      • “It isn’t MPD, they don’t decide whether to actually block transfer or not. ”

        While true, I find more plausible the DC police are deliberately slow-walking the process, because they hate guns… 🙁

  3. This article has a number of mistakes. Moreover it misses the main cause. Over 2/3 of DC felonies never result in ANY kind of arrest or arrest and charge. Of those that do, about 75% are pled down to non-felony charges. Meaning DC MPD, which was nixing transfers whenever legally possible, was NOT able to block transfers top the vast majority of defacto felons since most of them were not dejure felons. DC probably has the highest proportion of felons never convicted of a felony walking around on its streets.

    In fact in 2012 DC had 88 murders, and in 2023 it had some 274 murders. Why? Because in 2012 DC had 6,400 residents incarcerated and in 2023 it had 1,400 incarcerated. What caused DC’s general rise in violent crime, including gun crimes committed with both legal and illegal guns (as well as with knives) is the emptying of the prisons.

    Now to the mistakes. Charlie Sykes, did not have a “gun store.” He, from 2008 (Heller) to 2020 when he retired, exactly like MPD when it was FFL. ran a solely a transfer business. His checks were two fold: 1) FBI NICS which he conducted. and 2) approval by DC in its deeper secondary background check. That is what it was with Sykes (2008-2020) MPD, and today with the two No. Va. FFLS conducing FFL transfers in DC from end of 2020 to today.
    What drove any purchase to crime time reduction was not about different FFLs, gun stores, or changes in actual transfer regime. What caused what you see with the
    ATF findings was simply the 1) OVERALL increase in DC violent crime, be it legal guns, illegal guns, knives, fists etc ALL of which rose 300% between 2012 and 2023. 2) When it comes to legal gun purchases: the proportion of felons who, as part of left wing “sentencing reform” did not have a felony conviction record also went sky high allowing them to legally buy.

    • I’ll say the quiet part out loud. It will get deleted of course.

      It’s the blacks. DC has too many of them. If we eventually lose our 2A rights, it will be because of them more than anyone.

      If only we had the picked our own cotton.

      • Dude, the huge majority of black people in DC don’t ever commit any crime but are at much higher risk of crime victimization. Where race comes in in DC is willful failure to prosecute based in “disparate impact”/”disproportional impact” by race. Meaning with post-Ferguson, Post-Floyd “reforms” any prosecutable policy that impacted minorities more than non minorities was reduced or ended. And for example the DC elected AG actually joined in a federal suit to prevent prosecution of FIP (felon in possession). Felon in possession is proven in the data to be the prime precursory crime to armed robbery, aggravated assult with firearm, and murder — yet DC fought against having it prosecuted at all: oag.dc DOT gov/release/ag-racine-opposes-usao-prosecution-local-gun-cases

    • “Now to the mistakes. Charlie Sykes, did not have a “gun store.””

      Technically, according to the BATF regs, the small office he rented from the police department was a de facto ‘gun store’.

      There was no ‘shopping’, just the transfers shipped to him…

      • @Geoff: Charlie Sykes kept no inventory for sale. He never bought inventory to sell from any maker, wholesaler new or used. He sold no ammo, nor accessories. It is a stretch to call him a “gun store”. He simply and solely affected transfers for $125 (ie about a $85 or so premium). You did not need to use him if you bought a rifle since you could have it sent to a Virginia FFL and bring it in to DC. You had to use him if you were buying a handgun. You did no need to use him or any FFL if your were moving to DC with gun/s you already owned, but simply done registration. The article implies Charlie was somehow run out of the business. He made a lot of money but simply got tired and retired (in his mid 70’s)

  4. Sounds like every other gun transfer. Chiraq blamed Westforth gun shop in Gary,Indiana for “gun crime”. Since retired but likely driven out of business by lawfare. What’s your excuse NOW Chicago???🙄

    • The Excuse is, wait for it….
      Zombie Guns !!
      Not as in guns to KILL zombies, but guns that have mutated INTO zombies, as in rising up out of safes and nightstands and going out in droves with other zombie guns and indiscriminately killing whomever they run across.
      Pitchforks everyone, before it’s too late !!!!

  5. Wake me up when they conduct a predawn raid so the MPD doesn’t have time to flush the evidence.

  6. Maybe the named three letter should look at the other three letter who performs NICS. By the way, any clerical errors would warrent a 0-dark:30 raid according to the director’s (of said agency) policies.

  7. I would guess that the police have Qualified Immunity in this case, so forced to choose between selling a gun to a sketchy individual or accusations of -ism, the answer seems a forgone conclusion as the latter would be a career ending move in PC city.

  8. The DC MPD could not “refuse the sale as a dealer right” simply because they are a government entity and not a private “business.” By being the only FFL in the District and the fact that district residents can not take possession of firearms out of the District, per local law and per federal law concerning handguns, would de facto brings back the unconstitutional handgun ban which was overturned in Heller. I was a District resident from 1974 until 1992 and my father remembered when the last gun shop closed in 1971/1972 which was on 16th St. As a current FFL, 25 traces out of 8,000 guns sold/transferred is really not that many. Also, not every ATF trace involves a gun “used in a crime.” If local PD conducts a search warrant on a unoccupied storage unit and finds a dozen guns they might have ATF trace each one.

    • Shhh. You are not allowed to say the quiet part out loud. We all know the ATF plays games with its trace data (that it refuses to publish) but we aren’t allowed to talk about it…

  9. I’d like to know what law authorizes reporting demands over the “time to crime” statistic. I’m going to guess that it’s “none”. The only thing that number tells you is that there are a lot of burglaries in that area, which is hardly the fault of the gun retailer.

    • In addition to a) burglaries, a lot of b) locally unprosecuted straw purchase, a whole lot of c) unprosecuted felon in possession (oag.dc DOT gov/release/ag-racine-opposes-usao-prosecution-local-gun-cases), a d) tens of thousands of unprosecuted or pled down felonies to misdemeanor, meaning DC has a MASSIVE, probably highest in US, number of people who should be in prohibited class and are not. If someone committed as violent felony robbery and were not caught due to defunding of police the first time, and committed another gun robbery and assult “papered”/”diverted” the second time, and then committed a third felony robbery or felony assult and pled to misdemeanor, they can buy a firearm in DC. Whereas in most sane jurisdictions they would be rotting in jail

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