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The Brady Campaign is breathlessly (gotta run fast to dodge those falling chunks of sky) reporting that Pennsylvania Leads The Nation In Guns “Missing” From Gun Shops: “Newly released data show that Pennsylvania ranks #1 in the nation for the most guns “missing” from licensed gun shops with no record of sale, with more than 6,000 guns missing from Pennsylvania gun shops over three years. Pennsylvania gun dealers alone accounted for 10% of all guns reported “missing” from the nation’s gun shops from 2008 to 2010.” Yes, it’s true that . . .

Six thousand guns are missing! Just in Pennsylvania! And that is only 10% of the total for the nation! Further down we find out that over those three years 62,134 guns went “missing”! That sounds like an awful lot of guns, until you actually look at the reality.

According to the NSSF’s data, over the course of those three years there were something in excess of 27.5 million guns sold. So, 0.23% of guns sold were lost or less than one-quarter of one percent. Also keep in mind that the ATF considers a gun “lost” if inventory shows a serial number of 11191 and the actual number is 11911. They don’t remove the phantom gun from the list of missing.

But wait, there’s more! According to the Bradys:

The missing guns are noted at ATF compliance inspections of licensed gun dealers, but ATF has conducted compliance inspections each year at only about one-fifth of the nation’s gun shops.

They are trying to imply that the number of missing guns is even higher but completely ignore the fact that the ATF focuses on “problem” gun shops. These “problem” FFLs are those that have had a higher than average number of paperwork problems, which means they are likely to have a higher number of “missing” guns.

But let’s take the Brady claims at face value and assume that inspections and “missing” guns are distributed evenly across gun stores. This means that only 60% of FFLs were checked in that three year period, so our count of missing guns goes up to 103,556 which is a really big number. Unfortunately for the Bradys that brings the percentage of “missing” guns up to a whopping 0.38% or a hair over a third of a percent.

According to the Bradys this is very very bad because:

Firearms that leave gun shops without records of sale are frequently trafficked by gun traffickers and prized by criminals because the guns have no record of sale and are virtually untraceable.

Except they aren’t because there are records; otherwise how would the ATF know they were missing? The manufacturer records the serial number and what distributor the weapon went to and the distributor records the serial number and what retailer it went to. The Bradys continue:

Corrupt gun dealers also attempt to disguise illegal off-the-book sales by claiming that the firearms were lost or stolen.

Yes, because having a whole bunch of your weapons fall off your books and then show up at a crime scene is so unlikely to bring the ATF, FBI and probably DHS down on your tuchus. Much better for the corrupt dealer (cue evil laughter) to simply arrange with his criminal cohorts to make straw sales.

No, this is just more Brady scare-mongering, providing numbers without context, hoping that no one will check up on them. Pretty much an average day at the nation’s foremost gun-grabbing shop.

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  1. The Brady Campaign is getting ready to inaugurate a data base for Missing and Exploited Guns. To establish this worthwhile effort a newly-created charitable foundation–the Gun Enhanced Tragedy Scene Uplift Machine (GETSUM) will now be accepting tax free donations for the purpose of publishing a list, complete with lurid photographs, of guns the Bradys suspect are being put to naughty purposes.

    GETSUM now, before gun ownership becomes socially acceptable.

  2. I appreciate your analysis and explanation.

    But the numbers are still too damn high in what should be an easily remediated database. Take out the numbers of guns that are incorrectly entered (serial numbers somehow confused). Then, take out any other duplicated entry errors. Then, there should be a number. If that number is anything other than zero, we have a problem.

    Not that missing guns are the explanation for crime stats in the US. But that we have a fairly reasonable expectation that a gun dealer can account for the guns in the store. If not, what the hell is going on?

    • There is a difference between “missing” and “stolen.”

      Theft happens all the time; in the last 12 months, I know of two instances of theft in the last 12 months from valley forge pa area shows. One dealer has a Luger stolen right off his table, and another had his inventory stolen from his vehicle while he was eating dinner in a local eatery.

  3. Every day, I become more proud of my home state of PA. As long as we’re not talking about Philly.

    Anything that gets the panties of these “corrupt Americans” in a twist is alright by me.

  4. Sorry Bruce, but for high dollar, low size items (such as iPods, TVs, computers, and YES guns) a loss rate of a quarter of a percent is WAY too high. Just speaking as a supply chain expert here. If UPS lost that percentage, they’d be firing people… Same with Apple, Best Buy, etc… And their devices pose a significantly lower threat if misappropriated.
    Any decent supply chain manager at a corporation would immediately be on a witch hunt with that kind of lossage rate. And database errors are most likely a tiny fraction of that (yes, even taking into account gov’t). One in 400 firearms just… drops off the record? Yes, they are focusing on problem shops… (and based on those numbers with good reason), but with a number like that, there is definitely some theft or malfeasance going down, or gun shops must make some awfully high margins to be able to just ignore that kind of loss. I can’t speak for gun shops, but if the electronics section of a big box store, or a Best Buy had that kind of lossage rate on their high dollar items, there’d be serious fire coming down the management chain and you could bet your ass they’d be firing/prosecuting folks.
    Personally, I’d expect gun shops to have a higher personal standard for inventory control than the hippies at the Apple Store or the teenagers down at Best Buy. Just my opinion…

    • I don’t disagree that it’s too high, but the issue of theft is likely the highest at gun shows, where a gun might grow legs. Trust me, it happens all the time, and not just with guns. Also there is the issue of having ones inventory stolen while traveling to or from a show.

      Keep in mind that there are a LOT of shows in PA, often multiple on any given weekend. Earlier this month, the shows at Oaks, Harrisburg, and Allentown all coincided.

      Figure on an average of one MAJOR show a week, with 750 tables (shows are generally 500-1000+), further figure that 2/3 of those tables are actual gun dealers (and not jerky, jewelry, and toy helicopters), and further figure on 25 (a groas under estimate) guns per table, and you’ve got well over 600,000 (likely 2-4x in reality) guns being transported in any given year. And the dealers have to maintain custody of them for 2-3 days often up to 100 miles from their shop.

      So, if you’re on your way back from a show, with 300+ guns in your trailer, and a bunch of hoodlums bust it open while you’re at Waffle House, it skews the statistics fairly quickly.

      Really though, the important question is what the breakdown is between misplaced guns, clerical errors, and actual theft.

      • I find it hard to believe that a business that primarily sells only firearms and that has to report and be accountable to the BATF, FBI and every gun grabber out there would consistently loose firearms either because of poor paperwork or theft etc. I have a business and I watch everything and track petty cash and general supplies as well and am not trusting others to be solely responsible for our accounting. As the owner

        My point is, that if they are consistently loosing that many firearms that they should not be in business the same way a pharmacy would not be if they mysteriously lost narcotics on a regular basis. The occasional typo when entering a serial number i can understand but it would have to happen very rarely and the actual loss short of being robbed I do not for one minute believe. Even given the wholesale cost of a firearm I would find it hard to believe that business could sustain the loss of more than the occasional gun or rifle due to some type of clerical error. I know a great many small business owners are not great business people as they may get into it because they love firearms etc just like doctors are not good at running a business in general.

        To stay in business accurate record keeping is essential and the loss at gun shows I find a dubious argument because if they loose a couple per show or even 1 then how can they stay in business. No, you find a way to keep track of the items on your table.

        Gotta go now but that is just my opinion!

      • How about the fast and furious guns …..LOL .THEY TURNED UP MISSING .AND TURNED BACK UP AT CRIME SCENES ALLOVER THE PLACE …..! Are they part of the guns we are talking about here ?

  5. Does anyone know where this “newly released data” may be found? There’s no citation to it in the Brady Asshat press release.

  6. I think this says it all about the Brady Bunch. Any reputable group would have the source of their information noted in the footnotes, instead they have this:

    “Dan Gross is the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Center. A photo and more information about Dan Gross is available here.”

    I guess a photo is worth a thousand verifiable sources?

  7. And here I thought that Mayor Bloomberg said the cause of all of New York’s problems not just crime, everything including potholes, and dog cr*p on the sidewalks, are those evil Southern states like Virginia, Georgia, Florida, et al, with our lax gun laws. Now I find out its his neighbor Pennsylvania too.

  8. I have few concerns about the data presented here. Firstly does the ATF investigate gun dealers who have reported losses due to theft and then report these simply as “losses?”
    In addition to the aforementioned points regarding database errors and duplicate entries this would probably lower the number significantly more. Additionally who is being investigated aside from gun dealers? Are distrubutors and manufacturers being investigated as well? If all three are being investigated then it would only follow that the ATF is significantly increasing the loss numbers since they already regard dupricate or database errors as “losses” regardless of the facts.
    Thirdly in light of the fact that we now know the ATF and “other agencies” have been selling or enabling the sale of weapons illegally from U.S. dealers to Mexican narco-terrorists over the last several years why would we give any credence to any “numbers” put forth by our friends in the ATF?

  9. Just to expand on my previous thought, in case it wasn’t clear enough — I’m no criminal mastermind like our friends over at the ATF but if I wanted to conceal the sale of thousands of guns to narco-terrorist organizations in sunny Mexico then I would definitely use my power over the determination of what constitutes a “loss” to be as obstinate as possible and to inflate the statistics in a way that lays the blame directly at someone elses door.

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