HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - An annual report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) shows 481 guns were lost from Alabama's federally licensed gun dealers in 2015.
That includes both theft and inventory problems.
Why are guns stolen so frequently?
Firearms are a natural target for criminals.
The Madison County District Attorney's Chief Investigator Kevin Turner puts it simply, "When you use a stolen weapon, naturally it can't be traced back to you."
Stolen guns create an entire market beneath federally licensed gun dealers -- a market that doesn't discriminate against felons or require any background checks.
It just serves criminals.
"There's guys out here on the streets that sell weapons like they sell narcotics," Turner says, "It's a business."
Where are the guns coming from?
- 14,800 guns disappeared from federally licensed gun dealers in 2015 nationwide, either from theft or loss
- 481 of those guns come from Alabama dealers
- Alabama accounts for 3.25% of the national total
Alabama has 77 reports listed, totaling 481 guns. The reports include burglaries, larcenies, robberies, and loss.
How does 2015 compare?
That total in Alabama dropped significantly over the last three years.
In 2015, we saw 481 guns lost.
In 2014, 582 guns were taken from federally licensed gun dealers.
In 2013, that number was 882.
What's the response when guns disappear from dealers?
The ATF tells us serial numbers, make, and models for all those guns are put into a database.
If they, say, turn up in a crime, they can be tracked back to the incident where they went missing.
What kinds of guns disappear most?
Pistols went missing most frequently, accounting for 5,399 losses out of the nearly 15,000 total nationwide.
Rifles, revolvers, and shotguns make up the second, third, and fourth most common.
What are we still working to learn?
The ATF provided a nationwide summary of the statistics, which were compiled for a database.
We're still pushing to obtain an itemized list from the ATF of the individual incidents in Alabama.
The ATF summary also notes that 101 federally licensed gun dealers account for over half of the nationwide losses. The ATF confirmed to WHNT News 19 that at least one of those dealers is in north Alabama.
We're pressing for the full list.