LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A federal report on guns and crime shows that police recovered and traced more than 23,000 weapons over a five-year span in Las Vegas, with pistols accounting for three of every four weapons.
Glock 9mm pistols are the guns most commonly recovered in criminal investigations in Las Vegas. The report indicates about a third of guns in Las Vegas have less than a year “time to crime” — the time from when they are purchased to the time they are used in a crime.
Nationally, important information emerged from the report produced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF):
- The use of devices to convert semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons skyrocketed from 2017 to 2021. The number of bump stocks in use increased 570% during that time. At least one case in Nevada involved a “Glock switch” device.
- The time from a gun being purchased to being recovered from a crime scene is shrinking — 54% of guns used in crimes were purchased within three years, a double-digit increase. That increase was driven largely by guns bought less than a year before, the report said.
- An “epidemic” of stolen guns, with more than a million weapons reported stolen between 2017 and 2021. ATF reports 96% of those thefts were from private individuals.
- Use of “ghost guns” is dramatically rising. Requests for ATF traces on ghost guns jumped from 1,629 in 2017 to 19,273 in 2021. ATF said 287 “privately made firearms” were recovered and traced in Las Vegas.
Overall, police agencies asked for ATF tracing on guns used in crimes nearly 2 million times from 2017 to 2021.
The report will help officials find patterns in how guns move after they are stolen — where they come from and where they go to. Of the guns recovered in Las Vegas, about 70% stayed in the state. But 28% ended up in California — Los Angeles and Oakland were the most common destinations.
The report also adds fuel to efforts by U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., to strengthen the nation’s gun laws.
A court ruling in early January struck down a Trump-era law prohibiting bump stocks, and challenges could end up in the Supreme Court. But Titus reintroduced a bill known as “Closing the Bump Stock Loophole Act” on Jan. 17, along with bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives.
“On 1 October, the deadliest shooting in American history was perpetrated in my district using bump stocks that allow semi-automatic weapons to function like machine guns. I’m working with both parties in Congress to arrest this disturbing trend of gun violence and ban the tools of mass shooters,” Titus told 8 News Now on Friday.
Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival from his hotel room at Mandalay Bay on Oct. 1, 2017. He killed himself as police closed in. Paddock killed 58 people that night, and two additional deaths have been attributed to the shooting.
Nevada’s state law banning bump stocks remains in effect while the federal law is tied up in court.
As January ended, Titus also sponsored the Keep Americans Safe Act, a bill aimed at outlawing high-capacity gun magazines. According to information distributed by the Democratic sponsors of that bill, more than half of all mass shootings from 2009 to 2018 involved guns with high-capacity magazines.
In another development today, in a ruling seen as a victory for gun rights activists, a U.S. appeals court struck down a federal law making it a crime for people under domestic violence restraining orders to own firearms.
Data reported for Las Vegas does not include Henderson and North Las Vegas. A major case in July of 2018 involved the theft of more than 200 firearms and ammunition in a truck and trailer parked outside the Fiesta Henderson. Another case involved the theft of more than 60, pistols, rifles, machine guns and silencers during the 2019 SHOT Show at the Sands Expo on the Strip.
The ATF report on Las Vegas shows that most of the 7,851 weapons that were recovered were within 10 miles of where they were stolen. But 3,146 weapons were recovered more than 300 miles away.
The statistics also point to the growing problem of “straw purchases” — when a gun is bought by one person but is in the possession of someone else. In nearly half the cases documented, the purchaser and the possessor are different (9,137 guns). Another 38.5% involved a gun bought by a person — and the gun in possession of “unknown.”
Additional Las Vegas statistics:
These statistics report only on burglaries, robberies and larcenies in which guns were stolen and at least one weapon was recovered, 2017-2021:
- GUN THEFTS: 49 total thefts involving 182 firearms
- WHAT WAS STOLEN: 99 pistols, 40 silencers, 30 rifles, seven revolvers, three machine guns, two “receiver/frame” devices and one shotgun.
- RECOVERED: 121 firearms