NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released data on guns used in crimes from 2017 to 2021, including the ages of those who originally purchased the guns, in its first report on firearms in 20 years.
The ATF calls guns used in crimes “crime guns”, and more than half the time, the person who originally bought the weapon was not the person using it during the crime, according to the data. Oftentimes, the gun purchaser and the criminal using the gun didn’t know each other.
More than 1 million firearms were reported stolen from 2017 to 2021, according to the ATF.
In Nashville, 269 guns have been stolen from cars so far this year, according to the Metro Nashville Police Department. There is some concern those firearms could be used to commit future crimes.
Community activist Clemmie Greenlee, founder and CEO of Mothers Over Murder, told News 2 that statistic is worrisome.
“If I have allowed my gun to be somewhere unsafe and someone got ahold of it, a 12-year-old, 13-year-old, and they went and committed a crime, I’m just as guilty as they are,” Greenlee said.
In addition, the ATF found 3% more guns used in crimes from 2019 to 2020 were originally purchased by people ages 18 to 24. During that same time, 5% fewer guns purchased by 35-year-olds and up were used in crimes, the data showed.
Regardless of the age of the gun purchaser, if a firearm gets into the wrong hands, it can contribute to the gun violence problem, which Dr. Kelsey Gastineau, a Vanderbilt pediatric hospitalist, considers a public health crisis.
“Firearms are the leading cause of death for our kids in Tennessee and the United States, so wherever the firearm is coming from is a huge issue,” Gastineau said. “When we’re thinking about firearms that come from, (if they’re) stolen, whether they come from vehicles or things like that, we need to think about solutions that will work to help reduce those, because those will eventually reduce injuries for children and teens in this state.”
Greenlee told News 2 she wants to see the gun-purchasing age requirement increase. In addition, she is advocating against a bill she said would loosen gun restrictions.
“You think the data is speaking now; we’re going to be in trouble,” Greenlee said. “I always call it a bloody summer; it’s going to be a triple bloody summer if we don’t get ahold of these guns.”
In addition, the ATF has seen a new problem over the years involving privately made firearms, or ghost guns, which cannot be traced. According to the feds, ghost guns are being used more often in crimes.
To read the full report from the ATF, click here.