The nation’s gun dealers lost 10,915 firearms last year, including pistols, silencers and machine guns, contributing to the flow of illegal weapons that put guns in the hands of felons, gang members and drug dealers, according to a new report released Friday.
The same report says that in Minnesota, 1,353 firearms were reported lost or stolen by gun dealers and gun owners last year. One of the largest thefts last year took place in July, when 30 handguns were stolen from a Gander Mountain store in Woodbury.
“This is the most accurate system that we have right now,” said Bob Schmidt, spokesman for the Minnesota field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
The first-of-its-kind ATF report shows state-by-state the number of guns reported lost or stolen. These firearms “pose a substantial threat to public safety and to law enforcement,” the report concluded.
While the number is considered the most accurate count to date, it only shows lost and stolen firearms that were reported to authorities. The total number isn’t known because some states, including Minnesota, do not require gun owners to report if their weapons are lost or stolen.
Moreover, there’s no law requiring local law enforcement agencies to report lost or stolen firearms to federal authorities, further limiting the ATF’s ability to count lost or stolen firearms, the report noted.
Studies by the ATF in the 1990s suggested that stolen firearms supplied about 10 percent of the illegal weapons trade, with the rest coming from gun shows, straw purchases and corrupt gun dealers. Publication of those studies has since been halted by Congress.
A separate 2012 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 1.4 million guns were stolen during burglaries and other property crimes from 2005 to 2010.
According to the ATF report: A total of 190,342 firearms were reported lost or stolen to the National Crime Information Center, the FBI’s national clearinghouse of crime data.
About 1,300 firearms were reported stolen in Minnesota last year; 50 were reported lost.
Gun dealers in Minnesota reported 88 firearms stolen last year; they reported 81 firearms lost.
Of the national total, 10,915 firearms were reported lost by gun dealers.
Of the national total, 5,762 firearms were reported stolen from gun dealers.
Texas reported 18,874 firearms lost or stolen last year, accounting for about 10 percent of the national total. Georgia, Florida, California and North Carolina were also in the top five states.
The report was ordered by President Obama in January as one of 23 executive actions enacted to reduce gun violence in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting that killed 20 children and six teachers.