Friday, January 13, 2012

Badger Guns has new name, subject of a new study

Badger Guns, the West Milwaukee gun shop, has a long and disturbing record of selling guns that are eventually used in crimes. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has done an excellent job of detailing many of those issues. Some of the sales from Badger Guns were even used to injure 6 Milwaukee police officers in recent years. The shop's license was revoked for breaking federal laws and it stopped selling guns on December 31st. However this isn't the first time that they have run into this kind of trouble. The last time that they faced such an obstacle they simply transferred the business from father to son and successfully reapplied for a license.

It was recently announced that Badger Guns will be doing something similar. It is being sold from the previous owner to his brother and the name of the shop will be changed to Brew City Shooter's Supply. Once again the new owner is promising to do a better job of preventing sales of guns that are used in crimes but we have heard this story before. In fact Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn is understandably sceptical of the new arrangement because of the shop's long pattern. In the past he accused the store of having a business plan that involves selling guns to criminals. His recent observations about the new changes to the controversial gun shop are equally as blunt.

Generally, the best predicator of future behavior is past behavior, and every time Badger has been in trouble and surrendered a license, it's turned around and reissued the license and gone right back in the same business it was.

Badger Guns wasn't only in the news recently because of its change in ownership and name. It was also the subject of a new study released by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

The study found that the number of guns that were subsequently linked to crime sold by Badger Guns increased dramatically after Congress adopted measures (known as the Tiahrt amendments)likely to reduce the risks gun dealers face if they divert guns to criminals. The study is the first to examine the impact of these amendments on the diversion of guns to criminals and was recently published online in the peer-reviewed Journal of Urban Health.

The new study provides the following description of the Tiahrt Amendments:

The Tiahrt amendments are a series of amendments to appropriations bills and became law in 2003 and prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from releasing data from crime gun traces. In 2004, the Tiahrt amendments further restricted crime gun-trace data by limiting access to government officials and prohibiting the use of these data in firearm dealer license revocations and civil law suits.

The study found that after the Tiahrt amendments went into effect, guns diverted to criminals soon after being sold by Badger Guns actually increased by 203 percent. The lead study author Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, concluded the following from their rather shocking analysis:
Our findings suggest that changes to federal gun policy prompted a dramatic increase in the flow of guns to criminals from a gun dealer whose practices have frequently been of concern to law enforcement and public safety advocates.

This post is written as part of the Media Matters Gun Facts fellowship. The purpose of the fellowship is to further Media Matters' mission to comprehensively monitor, analyze, and correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media. Some of the worst misinformation occurs around the issue of guns, gun violence, and extremism, the fellowship program is designed to fight this misinformation with facts.

No comments: