Chicago, Ill. – The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, joined by community leaders, Friday launched a national initiative utilizing protests, petitions, a code of conduct and lawsuits to “Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers” that turn a blind eye to gun traffickers, straw purchasers and criminals, and flood our nation’s streets with guns used in crimes. An astonishing 60 percent of crime guns come from just one percent of gun dealers.
“These ‘bad apple’ gun dealers choose profits over people and are largely responsible for America’s gun violence problem,” said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We are working to mobilize communities directly impacted every day by the guns these bad apple dealers put on their streets to demand change. We are all fed up with the violence in our communities and this is something that we can all do to make a real difference – to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and to keep our children safe.”
The campaign kicked-off outside Chuck’s Gun Shop & Pistol Range in Riverdale, Illinois, which has been the source of thousands of guns recovered in crimes in Chicago. Chuck’s alone accounts for eight percent of the total number of guns that were recovered and traced to crimes in Chicago in the last five years. Chicago has experienced an increase in the number of shootings despite an overall drop in crime, including homicides. City officials and law enforcement have attributed the uptick in gun violence to the volume of illegal guns available.
Joining the Brady Campaign at the kick-off event were Representative Danny Davis (IL-7), Bishop James Dukes of the National Action Network (NAN), Father Michael L. Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church, Mark Walsh, campaign director at the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICHV), and Carolyn and Thomas Wortham, parents of Officer Thomas Wortham IV, who was shot by a gun obtained in a straw purchase.
On Monday, Brady will continue the campaign in Philadelphia, by filing a lawsuit against a “bad apple” dealer related to a straw purchase that led to the death of a police officer. In the coming months, additional protests are scheduled and other lawsuits will be filed across the country.
“Most gun dealers are responsible business people, but the ‘bad apple’ gun dealers who choose to profit off the criminal market need to be held accountable for the gun violence they contribute to in our communities,” said Jonathan Lowy, director of the Brady Center’s Legal Action Project.
For 25 years, the Brady Center has filed lawsuits to hold “Bad Apple” gun dealers accountable for their irresponsible business practices. In Wortham v. Ed’s Pawn Shop, Brady sued on behalf of the parents of Thomas Wortham IV, a Chicago Police Officer, Iraq War veteran and community leader who was shot and killed by gang members outside his parents’ home. The handgun used in the murder was purchased by a straw buyer at a Mississippi pawn shop, which now videotapes its sales as a result of the lawsuit.
“Brady Center lawsuits have stopped gun dealers from selling guns to straw purchasers and traffickers, forced bad actors out of business, and sent a resounding message to the gun industry that it must clean up its act,” said Mr. Lowy.
The “Stop Bad Apple Gun Dealers” Campaign also features a Code of Conduct that Brady activists will demand that gun dealers across the nation follow. The Code of Conduct defines some policies and practices gun dealers should adopt to prevent the diversion of guns into the illegal market. Each element of the proposed Code has either been suggested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), imposed as a legal requirement in certain states, accepted by dealers as part of litigation settlements, or urged as a standard by major gun industry trade associations.