Our colleagues at the Washington Post have a great series of articles show how guns flow through society and are used in crimes. Using some remarkable gumshoe reporting, The Post documents how a small percentage of gun stores sells most of the weapons recovered by police in crimes.
Maryland has 350 gun dealers: one dealer, Realco, accounted for 1 in 3 guns recovered by police from crimes.
The Post reconfirms studies that came out before federal gun-tracing data were removed from public view by an act of Congress in 2003.
Other findings include:
* Nearly two out of three guns sold in Virginia since 1998 and recovered by local authorities came from about 1 percent of the state's dealers - 40 out of the 3,400 selling guns. Most of those 40 had received government warnings that their licenses were in jeopardy because of regulatory violations. But only four had their licenses revoked, and all are still legally selling guns after transferring their licenses, reapplying or re-licensing under new owners.
* A gun store in Portsmouth, Va., transformed over the past seven years from a modest family-owned business into one of the state's top sellers of "crime guns," leading Virginia in the category of how quickly its guns moved from the sales counter to crime scenes.
* The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which investigates gun trafficking and regulates the firearms industry, is hamstrung by the law, politics and bureaucracy. The agency still has the same number of agents it had three decades ago. It can take as long as eight years between inspections of gun stores. And even when inspectors turn up evidence of missing guns, they cannot compel a dealer to take inventory.