Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) unveiled new legislation last week to curb gun violence, in which she cited a gun crime figure that shows she didn't do all her homework.
Velázquez’s announcement of the new bill, which also seeks to stem the rate at which firearms are stolen, featured a statistic about the number of guns stolen each year:
“Across the U.S., almost 600,000 guns are stolen each year from private homes. New York streets are often a destination for guns lost or stolen in states with more permissive gun laws.”
That figure of well over half a million annually stolen firearms is not backed up by the Bureau Justice Statistics (BJS), which calculated approximately 232,500 stolen firearms per year, or one-third of Velázquez's claim.
In addition, the rate of stolen firearms has been rapidly declining in recent years. As the BJS notes in its 2012 study, firearm thefts account for an extremely small percentage of robberies and burglaries:
“On average, firearms were stolen in an annual average of about 4% of the 2.4 million burglaries occurring each year, in 2% of the 529,200 robberies, and in less than 1% of the 13.6 million other crimes involving theft from 2005 through 2010.”
When IJ.com reached out to Velázquez’s congressional office as to where she obtained such a figure claiming nearly one million stolen firearms each year, spokesperson Alex Haurek responded with a link to an old webpage featuring an unsourced study presented by Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group “Mayors Against Illegal Guns.”
The “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” group has since changed its name to “Everytown for Gun Safety” in order to bolster a partnership with the anti-firearm group “Moms Demand Action."
Further, that number becomes more skewed when looking at the rapid increase in purchased and processed firearms each year. According to the ATF, processing of background checks as part of the National Firearms Act has increased tenfold since 2008.
Velázquez's bill is unlikely to gain any traction in the Republican-controlled House, as it also contains an automatic tax on firearm purchases.
But in order to court Republicans, it would be wise cite demonstrable statistics.