The Problem: Every gun in the United States starts off as a legal firearm but can quickly become illegal in a number of ways. Each year thousands of guns purchased legally make their way into the hands of criminals and end up killing innocent people. In 2010 there were more than 5,000 guns trafficked into New York State and used in crimes that were from sales in other states.

Straw Purchasers: Criminals obtain guns illegally from straw purchasers who pretend to buy guns for themselves and instead sell the guns to people who would never pass a background check because of felony convictions, mental illness, domestic violence convictions, and drug addiction.

The ATF found that straw purchasing was the most common channel for illegal firearm trafficking, accounting for 46% of all investigations, and associated with nearly 26,000 illegal trafficked firearms in a period of only 18 months. New York City conducted undercover straw purchase sting operations in states responsible for the most illegal guns recovered by NYPD. Two-thirds of the employees of gun stores they visited made the illegal straw sale. New York City sued 27 dealers who were among the top sources of illegal guns recovered in New York City.

The Solution: Federally licensed firearms dealers are required to pass a background check in order to obtain a license. Their employees should also be required to pass background check before being allowed to sell guns. And employees of dealers should be required to undergo education and training in order to spot straw purchasers.