Licenses To Build Guns Skyrockets In Florida
From Naples News: TALLAHASSEE — Florida has more gun manufacturers than any other state except Texas, after a surge of nearly 350 percent in licenses for gun makers fueled by the nation’s growing demand for firearms.
The increase in gun manufacturing licenses since 2009 has strained the resources of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — the federal law enforcement agency that monitors the nation’s gun sales and distribution. As the number of licenses to make firearms grew nationally by nearly 250 percent from 3,040 licenses in 2009 to 10,503 last year, the number of special agents watching manufacturers has increased only 30 percent, from 623 in 2009 to 811 in 2015.
The agency is outmatched, and that’s a public danger when police departments across the country rely more frequently on the expertise of the ATF to respond to gun violence, two former ATF special agents said.
Within 12 hours after Omar Mateen shot 49 people at an Orlando gay club in June, ATF special agents traced the Sig Sauer MCX assault rifle and the Glock semiautomatic handgun he used to a St. Lucie County gun dealer.
But the spike in the number of gun makers in Florida and elsewhere piles more work on the agency and leaves many manufacturers unchecked for years by federal agents who try to ensure firearms are documented and made properly.
“I hate to say this, but they’ve adopted a sort of triage method that goes after the bigger gun dealers — the guys out there who may be more likely to get in trouble,” retired ATF special agent David Chipman said. “They’re not going to pay attention to those smaller guys making a handful of guns here and there.”
The situation is particularly critical in Florida, where the number of firearm manufacturing licenses more than quadrupled from 155 in 2009 to 691 in May, according to ATF data. Texas tops the list at 1,103 licensed gun makers, a 404 percent increase from the 219 reported in 2009.
“Maybe we are on the edge of a point where the ATF will not be able to keep up anymore,” former ATF special agent William Vizzard said.
The federal licenses allow the manufacturing of firearms and ammunition for sale or distribution. Established gun shop owners and firearms enthusiasts are using their manufacturing licenses to obtain parts and assemble weapons for sale.
They’re doing more than just selling pistols, rifles and shotguns from stores and pawn shops.
In California, which has the nation’s third-most firearm manufacturing licenses at 526, enthusiasts find parts with ease, turning production of high-power rifles into social events. That trend is eroding the control the ATF had on the gun manufacturing industry, said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of the book “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”
“You have clubs out here that get together to have AR-15 building parties — that’s how easy it is to find parts these days,” Winkler said. “You no longer have to be an ironsmith to put these guns together.”
Some entrepreneurs obtained licenses to satisfy a growing desire for popular assault rifles or other guns that might be difficult to find.
INTERACTIVE MAP: See where Florida gun manufacturers are located for 2016.
Robert Gottschalk, owner of the Ad Tek Tallahassee gun shop, said he built several AR-15 rifles at the request of customers. The parts to build the weapon are easily available and quick to assemble.
The rifle was banned by state lawmakers in Connecticut, New York and Colorado after versions of it were used in a December 2012 mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and the July 2012 mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
Demand for the AR-15 has been high enough that Gottschalk kept a collection of the necessary parts in his shop.
“Imagine if you wanted to buy a car and they told you it would take four months to get it. What would you do?” Gottschalk said. “You’d go out, get the parts and make one yourself.”
Florida and Texas also offer an attractive business climate for gun manufacturers, big and small.
Full Story At Naples News: http://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/special-reports/2016/08/05/licenses-build-guns-skyrockets-florida/87287914/