With nearly 100,000 licensed gun stores in the U.S., drug dealers and other crooks don’t shop just anywhere, says the Associated Press. In Compton, Ca., gangsters preferred Boulevard Sales & Service, a shop police said was so felon-friendly that some salesmen offered tips on how to buy a gun despite a criminal record. In Philadelphia, shady gun buyers sent girlfriends to a suburban pawn shop, Lou’s Loan, where the staff wouldn’t raise a fuss if a young woman came by a few times a month to purchase cheap handguns. Near New Orleans, killers-to-be armed themselves at Elliot’s Gun Shop. Over the past five years, the store was the source of 2,300 weapons later linked to crime, including an astonishing 125 homicides, says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
AP says federal records show that an small number of gun shops account for a spectacularly large number of weapons used in crimes. The products they sell are legal. Congress has sheltered them from lawsuits and limited the power of regulators. It can take years for ATF to revoke a dealer’s license. Over the past three years, ATF agents have cracked down on some stores most notorious for selling large numbers of weapons used in street crime. In 2005 and 2006, some 220 firearms dealers had their licenses revoked – 20 more than in the previous eight years combined. More than two dozen stores have been hit with lawsuits, most notably by the city of New York.