Michigan has 43 stores on ATF list for selling the most guns used in crimes

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Capital News Service

LANSING — Dozens of Michigan businesses are on a national list of stores that sell the most guns used in crimes, highlighting what gun control advocates say is an unaddressed part of violence prevention.

Over 1,300 gun stores across the country appear on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ 2023 “Demand 2” list, according to a USA Today report.

Being on the list means at least 25 guns used in crimes were traced back to the store within a year. It also means those retailer must submit additional quarterly reports to the ATF on their purchases, according to USA Today.

Michigan has 43 stores on the list. 

But Mikah Rector-Brooks, the press associate for gun control advocacy group March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., says that number should be higher.

Michigan doesn’t require state law enforcement agencies to assist the ATF in tracing weapons, meaning the true number linked to stores could be higher than what the federal agency reported, Rector-Brooks said.

“It’s really alarming to look at this list, especially within the context of Michigan,” Rector-Brooks said. “I really hope that this report is a wake-up call for (dealers) to do everything they can to prevent more lives lost.”

The majority of the stores on the list are around Metro Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint, according to the USA Today data.

Capital News Service contacted a dozen stores on the list. 

Only Wyoming’s Silver Bullet Firearms & Training Center responded in an email, saying, “Per our store policy we do not take any media interviews, nor are we interested in doing so.”

Alan Jakubowski of Flint, a retired ATF agent in Detroit, said being on the list “doesn’t mean (the seller) is a bad dealer. They just sold more guns than the other guy.”

Large sporting goods chains like Bass Pro Shops and Dunham’s Sports make up a portion of the list due to the sheer quantity of guns they sell, although there are many smaller businesses on the list as well.

Jakubowski currently works for Crime Stoppers of Flint and Genesee County, a nonprofit organization that helps community residents anonymously report crime, then works with local law enforcement departments to respond.

He said that, in his experience, stores “want to do the right thing.”

“The person with the firearm with bad intent is the person who’s making a poor decision,” Jakubowski said.

But David Pucino, the legal director & deputy chief counsel of the California-based Giffords Law Center for the Prevention of Gun Violence, said the list reveals a larger problem with Michigan’s gun control laws.

Stricter state laws on licensing and background checks went into effect in early 2024. But Pucino said Michigan lacks laws to hold gun manufacturers accountable for unsafe or unlawful sales, unlike some other states.

“Gun traffickers know their business, and they identify and they exploit those folks who don’t follow the proper regulations and procedures,” Pucino said. “The result is that there are more crime guns on the streets and more gun violence.”

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