October 16th, 2015

CNNMoney Investigates: The Business of Guns

CNNMoney’s award winning investigative reporters Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken are out again with an inclusive investigation on the business of guns.

Ellis and Hicken’s deep dive on guns in America begins with an eyeopening look into who exactly is funding the National Rifle Association’s political battles. The organization’s overall revenue, which includes membership dues, program fees and other contributions, has boomed in recent years – rising to nearly $350 million in 2013. After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, donations to this political action committee surged as gun owners worried that their rights to buy and own guns were at risk.

And building on that finding, Ellis and Hicken also discovered that at least 11 states have passed laws that either encourage or require police departments to sell seized or recovered guns — with some banning police from destroying guns altogether. The investigative report discovered that every year, police officers seize tens of thousands of rifles, shotguns, machine guns and other firearms from criminals across the country. While many agencies destroy these weapons, a growing number of police departments are selling them instead.

The driving force behind these laws are pro-gun groups like the NRA. But they are being met by an unlikely opponent: police chiefs that don’t want to see officers put their lives at risk to seize these guns in the first place only to put them back on the streets. CNNMoney’s report located four cases in which crimes were committed with guns seized and sold by police.


Read more about the business of guns at CNNMoney.com.