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By Mark Oliva

America can add one more lingering effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Easy access to government funds fueled fraudulent claims that heated up the illicit black market of firearms, especially by criminal gangs and illegal drug networks. In other words, it wasn’t the lawful sale of a record number of firearms in 2020 and 2021 that was responsible for crime. It was government tax dollar giveaways without guardrails that criminals co-opted.

The low threshold to claim COVID-19 relief money from the federal government made it all too easy for criminal gangs like the Traveling Vice Lords and the Wild 100s to tap into free money. That money was used for crimes of illegal firearm straw purchases and even a murder-for-hire plot.

Gun control groups blamed the firearm industry for the rising rates of violent crime during and following the COVID-19 pandemic. The truth is clearer now. A lack of oversight to ensure COVID relief funds weren’t fraudulently obtained is a contributing factor, along with soft-on-crime policies and elected officials who refuse to jail criminals.

Criminal Connection

The Chicago Sun Times published the exposé of how the federal government’s plan to rescue the economy from collapse was a catalyst for skyrocketing black market gun profits. An Inspector General’s report from the Small Business Administration that oversaw the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster loan estimated that at least 17 percent of the $1.2 trillion handed out was obtained by fraud. That’s $204 billion.

Baltimore shooing crime scene police
Members of the Baltimore Police Department collect crime scene tape after investigating a shooting scene in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“We’ve repeatedly seen a connection between violent crime, violent criminal street gangs and the COVID fraud space throughout the country,” says Michael C. Galdo, director of COVID-19 fraud enforcement for the Justice Department, in the Chicago Sun Times report.

Criminal gangs figured out how to game the system and defrauded the government of millions of dollars that were used to buy illicitly-traded guns and drugs. Even criminals behind bars got in on the act. Government estimates pegged the figure at no less than $250,000 of COVID-unemployment insurance benefits went to federal inmates.

Federal agents said the price of illegally-sold guns soared. Criminals conspired to lie on PPP applications and applied for loans for businesses that didn’t exist. They used the funds, that in most cases didn’t need to be repaid, to buy guns on the black market from other gangs, and in some cases, to entice illegal straw purchasers.

GLOCK auto switch full auto machine gun machinegun pistol
Image courtesy Chicago Police Department

Jeffery Straus is a Chicago supervisory special agent with U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. He told the Sun Times that “street GLOCKs” increased in price form roughly $700 to over $1,000. If they had extended magazines, which are illegal in Illinois, the price went up. If they were illegally converted to an automatic firearm, they demanded even more money.

“That money somehow contributed to the rest of the violence in the city with drug-trafficking and the gun trade and all that stuff,” Strauss said.

Murder For Hire

One Wisconsin gang, the Wild 100s, used the money for more than just drugs and illegally-gotten guns. They used it for murder. Gang members got fraudulent unemployment payments from California and other states that were used to solicit the murder of an individual in Milwaukee. The murderer that carried out the killing of another gang leader’s relative, but a friend was murdered instead. The murderer was paid $10,000 from fraudulently-claimed COVID funds. That trial is still pending.

The easy-money schemes roped others in, too. Brandon Miller was an active-duty soldier who is accused of illegally straw purchasing firearms for Chicago gangs. At least one of those illegally-obtained guns was used in a mass shooting.

This is all, of course, counter to the prevailing narrative that gun control groups and politicians were selling as crime rates rose unabated. They pointed the finger at the firearm industry, ignoring that firearms are only sold after a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Form 4473 is completed and signed and an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verification is run.

Those lying on the forms to buy guns for those who can’t are committing felonies, which the firearm industry warns the public through the Don’t Lie for the Other Guy program, which partners with the Justice Department and ATF.

Biden angry speech SOTU
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

President Joe Biden was the grand marshal for the parade of gun control advocates blaming crime on the firearm industry, along with Attorney General Merrick Garland. The culprit was much closer to home. Government programs made it too easy to fraudulently claim taxpayer dollars that fueled crime. Meanwhile, the Biden administration refused to acknowledge that criminals would game the system to steal money and commit even more crime.

“They’re in a life of crime,” Galdo told the Sun Times. “They are repeat offenders who are committing crimes on a regular basis. And now we’re essentially giving them public money to fund what they’re going to do. Anytime we have that connection, that should be particularly troubling to people.”


Mark Oliva is Managing Director of Public Affairs for NSSF, The Firearm Industry Trade Association. 

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  1. Wow they are using Hu’s Wolf Totem on a moustache commercial now.
    Well I suppose there goes the last of the Covid stimulus checks, dang it, most of that money went to fixing my car. I had to get my car fixed son I could drive to the Yard sale’s dacian’s old lady was has to pick up some more gunms and emu.

  2. It’s about removing every resource this country has by any means possible as quickly as possible. Death and destruct (most especially within the US) is a plus. While we are treated to a storm of orange-man-bad, the Democrat left is doing everything they can to ruin this nation. Covid was used to scare everyone to the point of allowing it without question. Nearly every single thing going on right now is about this in one way or the other.

    A huge portion of those Covid relief funds went to companies that just ended up rerouting it all over seas. Money that no one had to pay back that came from the American tax payer. It’s the same kind of money laundering that supplied arms to Hamas and others. It’s no different from Fast and Furious. But these people sure like to make the law abiding US citizen as defenseless as they can.

    Many have died because of Biden and the Washington left. If any single one of those illegal aliens allowed in over the southern border manages to do something really bad in DC, you can bet we would see Democrats on TV telling us it was MAGA republicans.

    • Gosh the lame stream media(prominently Chiraq’s Sun Times)pushed the narrative it was mostly Indiana that illegally sold gats in She-ca-go. They convinced former mayor Groot to sue Westforth gunshop in Gary,Indiana. Do you suppose being sued figured into closing Westforth recently(retired)??? Quit giving the Scum Times ANY credit Dan🙄

  3. The “welfare industrial complex” produces many of the same results. Unfortunately, because the libertarians liberals on the left, the hom0sexuals, the atheists, the feminists all disagree with the Christians who said a father is necessary in the home.
    All those people are quite comfortable with the outcome described above. Because they don’t support the traditional family of one man and one woman. And they like having government intervention into the private affairs of people, and into the bedroom.

    • Should we dare mention “corporate welfare”.

      Corporate level rorts of COVID payments were in the billions.

      Even more insulting was businesses who claimed COVID payments then reported millions and billions in profits.

  4. Almost everything that Biden has done in office so far has funded crime and violence in some way, for example…

    1. Arming the taliban to arming hamas and funding the attack on Israel.

    2. Leading and facilitating and funding progressive policy for justice-reform and defunding police and letting out of jail (under ‘justice reform policy’) almost 80% of the violent criminals that have committed ~75% of the violent crimes since 2021 and letting into the country millions of illegal immigrants a large percentage actually being terrorist or violent criminals and drug cartel members.

    3. Weaponizing government law enforcement against the American people, especially the ATF that has already threatened to kill people during one of their illegal heavily armed searches.

    4. and the list goes on.

    • and for example, Biden led and facilitated and emboldened ‘progressive policy’ … (Colion pretty much nails this one exactly to show the tangled web they weave that actually increases crime and violence – California is just more obvious about it, its the same in every Blue state and city in the country where collectively over 80% of the crime and violence happens in the United States)

  5. Not to mention the fact that none of this would have been possible if the U.S. was a civilized nation that had gun registration and Universal Background Checks. The supply of second hand guns would have been minuscule. Now lets see the paranoid fanatics of the Far Right attempt to half-ass lie their way out of this one

    • dacian, the DUNDERHEAD, Horse pucky! “Gun registration” JBOL! Do you really think your criminal buds would register their firearms? Oh please. This is just another one of your hair brained schemes for control over the American people. Just like “Universal Background checks,” you control freaks propose as your panacea against “gun violence” (an oxymoron if their ever was one). We don’t have to lie. We know who the real criminals are. It’s a shame you have not figured it out yet.
      For a “gun expert” how come you still can’t tell us the firing sequence of a cartridge? ROFLAMOBT!

      • to Walter the Beverly Hillbilly

        Except history has show registration has worked in every country but what would an ignorant Hillbilly like you know about History

        • dacian, the DUNDERHEAD. ROFLMAOBT! Worked? I have a RED HOT NEWS FLASH for you. No, it can’t work here in the US because your criminal friends won’t bother to register their guns, leaving the rest of us defenseless. No other country in the world has a history of the 2nd Amendment.
          What you Leftists really want is gun confiscation.. we both know this is all about control, just like Saul Alinsky outlined.

    • darn dacian, I didn’t think it was possible for you get any more stupid but you really out stupid’d your self with this one.

  6. Millions were spent on Covid relief and a lot of Ivy league colleges raked in almost as much as the endowments sitting in their bank accounts. And, of course, Biden handing over money to Iran certainly added to gun proliferation.

    For the ATF to ascertain it was spent on “straw buyers” means all they need to do is present the case to a Grand Jury. Imagine my surprise when there are no indictments.

    I smell a lot of sensationalism and bias here lately.

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