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Inspiring Community Action to End Gun Violence in L.A. by Stopping “Bad Apple” Gun Dealers

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence

Non-profit organization

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence will educate and empower Los Angelenos to take meaningful action to stem the flow of crime guns and end gun violence in the community.



What does your organization do?

For more than 40 years, Brady has been the leading national voice in the prevention of gun violence, effecting meaningful change through public policy, legal action, and public awareness campaigns.

Please describe the activation your organization seeks to launch.

Gun violence is a serious threat to Los Angelenos, and most agree that keeping guns from those who would use them to do harm is a critical step in ending gun deaths. One way that dangerous people acquire guns is through “bad apple” gun dealers — the 5 percent of dealers that sell 90 percent of all crime guns. Through our campaign, Brady engages communities to take meaningful action in the fight to stem the flow of crime guns by shutting down or reforming “bad apple” gun dealers.

Which of the play metrics will your activation impact?​

  • Per capita crime rates
  • Perceived safety

Will your proposal impact any other LA2050 goal categories?

  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

How will your activation mobilize Angelenos?

  • Advocate for policy
  • Digital organizing or activism
  • Trainings and/or in-person engagements
  • Encourage businesses to change practices
  • Increase participation in political processes
  • Influence individual behavior

Describe in greater detail how your activation will make LA the best place to play?

Brady’s strategic campaign to stop “bad apple” gun dealers engages local residents, local Brady chapter members, and community-based organizations to take meaningful action to end gun violence in Los Angeles.

Chronic gun violence has a devastating impact on community health. There were 470 gun homicides in Los Angeles County over the past 12 months, according to the Los Angeles Times. Such tragedies are often the result of guns getting into the hands of people who should not have them, such as gun traffickers, convicted felons, domestic abusers, and people with a dangerous mental illness. Though these prohibited purchasers are not able to pass a Brady background check as required by law at federally licensed firearm dealers, they may obtain guns through “bad apple” gun dealers. These gun dealers knowingly ignore the law and engage in irresponsible business practices just to make a profit. The most recent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) data shows that nationally, 90 percent of crime guns are sold by only 5 percent of gun dealers. These “bad apples” supply nearly the entire U.S. criminal gun market.

While California has some of the strongest gun laws in the U.S., the safety of Californians is dramatically compromised by the impact of “bad apple” gun dealers. Most California crime guns come from “bad apple” dealers in-state. Out of the 39,034 crime guns recovered in California in 2016, for which the source was identified, 67 percent were traced to California dealers.

“Bad apple” gun dealers facilitate the flow of crime guns into vulnerable communities. These dealers knowingly or negligently skirt the law and endanger communities. For example, they may allow someone to “straw purchase” a gun on behalf of another person, typically someone who cannot pass a Brady background check. Or they may sell dozens or hundreds of the same type of gun to the same person in a short time. These purchasers are often trafficking guns to criminals. “Bad apple” gun dealers may also sell guns “off the books” that they then claim were lost or stolen. These purchasers are often people who could not pass a Brady background check or do not want a record of the sale.

We take a city-based, supply-side approach in stemming the flow of crime guns into vulnerable Los Angeles communities by reforming or shutting down the “bad apple” gun dealers who knowingly or negligently sell guns to prohibited purchasers. Brady convenes and coordinates a wide array of partners including law enforcement, the legal community, researchers, the media, and community-based organizations to: 1) identify and name “bad apple” gun dealers, 2) wage public, legal, and economic pressure to shut down or reform “bad apple” gun dealers, and 3) encourage sensible practices by responsible gun dealers.

Ultimately this work will reduce gun violence and increase public safety by reducing access to guns by those who would use them in crime.

How will your activation engage Angelenos to make LA the best place to play

Brady’s campaign to stop “bad apple” gun dealers leverages our unique expertise in community engagement, advocacy, media, and legal action to create awareness and intense public scrutiny of “bad apple” gun dealers; increase public and economic pressure for them to reform; advance policy changes at the local, state, and national levels to force them to shut down or reform; and bring impactful litigation against “bad apples” to force change.

There are three primary activities related to our work to stop “bad apple” gun dealers:

1) Identify and publicly name the “bad apples” through a crime gun trace report or by collaborating with local stakeholders — including law enforcement, crime labs, and community members;

2) Build a local coalition to wage public, legal, and economic pressure to shut down or reform “bad apple” gun dealers; and

3) Encourage sensible practices by responsible gun dealers.

The engagement of Angelenos is essential to the success of this work. With a local community organizer with deep ties to the Los Angeles community, we will recruit and empower a cadre of local community activists to wage public pressure against “bad apple” gun dealers in their communities through protests, boycotts, and public education and awareness raising events. We are particularly enthusiastic about engaging local youth activists in this work, and we will prioritize community outreach in neighborhoods most heavily impacted by gun violence, including neighborhoods in South L.A.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your activation.​

Ultimately, we want to save lives. This focus on the supply side of crime guns will reduce gun crime in Los Angeles. It will, however, take time to see the reduction in the supply of crime guns translate into lives saved. In the first two years of the project, we will define and measure success through:

1.Identifying the gun dealers that disproportionately supply guns to criminals.

2.Increasing community awareness of the disproportionate effect of BAGDs. The number of community meetings, church programs, youth awareness events, and programs at local community colleges/universities will be measured, as will number of participants.

3.Increasing legal action against “bad apple” gun dealers to hold them accountable and force change. This includes convening discussions with local prosecutors about criminal prosecutions of illegal gun purchases as well as bringing civil lawsuits.

In years one and two, we will collect baseline data to help us measure these outcomes. In years three through five, we will engage an external researcher to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the activities and outcomes of the city-focused intervention and assess the effectiveness the program.

Where do you hope this activation or your organization will be in five years?

The Brady Center aims to launch a community-driven campaign to stop “bad apple” gun dealers in Los Angeles, throughout California, and across the U.S. The five-year state-wide goals of this campaign are to:

  • Identify California “bad apple” gun dealers through greater collection, publication and sharing of crime trace data and other key investigative information;

  • Shut down or meaningfully reform at least 10 of the “bad apple” gun dealers affecting California; and

  • Reduce gun crime by at least 20% in three California cities.

Through our work in Los Angeles and throughout California, our goal is to build a model for city-based implementation that is scalable to other cities disproportionally affected by gun violence. In five years, it is our aim that Los Angeles and the Bay Area will have measurably reduced gun violence and can serve as models for other cities. Ultimately, we aim to stem the flow of crime guns into vulnerable communities across the U.S. to reduce gun violence and save lives.


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