Responding to an International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) 2016 presidential candidate questionnaire, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton noted that more than 33,000 people are killed by gun violence each year in the United States and said that revoking the licenses of “bad actor” gun dealers should be prioritized.
Clinton said that “strengthening background checks, closing the loopholes that put guns in the hands of dangerous criminals and the severely mentally ill and revoking the legal immunity Congress gave irresponsible gun manufacturers and dealers” were all necessary steps toward reducing the epidemic of gun violence plaguing the nation.
“But there’s one vital action that doesn’t get the attention it should: putting a stop to the flow of illegal guns by taking away licenses from bad-actor dealers that sell the majority of guns recovered on crime scenes,” Clinton added. “Nearly 90 percent of guns recovered on crime scenes in America come from just 5 percent of gun dealers in America.”
“We know who these bad actors are. But we rarely revoke a gun dealer’s license, even if they break the law. According to recent statistics, the ATF found that about one in three gun dealers were not compliant with federal gun laws. Yet, less than 1 percent of these stores had their licenses revoked. We need federal action on guns, and shutting down the major suppliers of illegal guns will be one of my priorities as president.”
There have been numerous incidents involving alleged criminal behavior by US gun dealers in recent months, including:
- In June, 50-year-old John Cramsey, owner of Higher Ground Tactical in Upper Milford Township, Pennsylvania, was arrested after police found a cache of guns in his vehicle at the Holland Tunnel crossing between New Jersey and New York City.
- Wilson Clow, 67, owner of 2nd Amendment Guns LLC in Grants Pass, Oregon, was convicted in June of selling a firearm to a prohibited person and falsifying federal gun transaction paperwork.
- Also in June, former Dyer, Indiana police commissioner James D. Okleshen, 45, owner of JNJ Arms Ltd., was arrested and charged with felony theft.
- In May, federal agents arrested Timothy Veninga, owner of Ballistic Firearms in Tucson, Arizona and his business partner, former Tucson police officer Joe Valles, for allegedly selling weapons and transporting them to Mexico.
- In April, 68-year-old Richard Futch of Seymour, Texas and 78-year-old George Adams of Wichita Falls, Texas were arrested after allegedly stealing multiple firearms.
Other gun dealers have engaged in criminal activity with impunity. In July 2014, this reporter received a Facebook death threat from PJ Clevenger, owner of CTS Arms in Black Canyon City, Arizona. Despite the explicit death threat, which can be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine, and despite the presentation of a screen shot of the threat, agents from the Phoenix branch of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) dismissed the federal offense as a “local law enforcement issue.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA), the nation’s leading Second Amendment and gun manufacturer lobby, has long protected America’s most negligent gun dealers by supporting legislation that blocks the ATF from sharing data about “bad actor” gun dealers with anyone outside law enforcement. “Just imagine if we had an outbreak of salmonella, and the FDA was not allowed to tell the public where the bacteria-fueled chickens were coming from,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) told Fusion last October.
Both Hillary Clinton, who noted in her response to the IACP questionnaire that “the vast majority of gun owners and gun dealers are responsible,” and her running mate, Tim Kaine, received “F” grades from the NRA.