Recently in Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Category

March 26, 2014

Cigarette Smuggling Increases in Maryland and Virginia

Higher cigarette taxes are causing an increase in the smuggling cigarette trade along Interstate 95 in Maryland and Virginia, and all over the east coast of the United States. Maryland and Virginia lawmakers have passed various bills in the last few months making the penalties for smuggling harsher and so these states can crack down on the trafficking of cigarettes and regain lost revenue.

States and the federal government have all raised tobacco taxes and therefore the profit incentive for smugglers increased. There are huge differences in cigarette costs from one state to another. There's a difference in costs for cigarettes from one state to another as high as $4.18 per pack. 57% of cigarettes smoked in the state of New York alone are smuggled by cigarette traffickers. Therefore the entire east coast is cracking down and making the needed changes to prevent the loss of billions of dollars of revenue and increase the fight against the increase of organized crime.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), there are many types of tobacco trafficking and schemes, actively trying to avoid taxes. The most common is the smuggling of cigarettes between states due to tax differentials between states along the East Coast of the United States. From $7 billion to $10 billion in state and federal tax revenue is lost each year because of tobacco smuggling. These amounts are much higher than the $5 billion it was just a few years ago, according to the ATF.

The per pack tax on Tobacco ranges from .17 cents in Missouri and .30 cents in Virginia to $4.35 in New York, where there is an additional charge state charge of $1.50 per pack. In total, there have been about 113 tax increases on Tobacco in 47 states, the District of Columbia and New York City since 2000.

According to the campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids in the state of Washington, every time there is a 10% increase in the price of cigarettes the overall consumption lowers by as much as 5% and lowers the number of children who smoke by about 7%.

On the other hand, this increase in Tobacco tax leads to a huge profit for smugglers. For example, Tobacco smugglers buying 200 cases of cigarettes in North and South Carolina to sell illegally in New York can clear as much as $500,000 in profits. Buying illegal and untaxed cigarettes, for as low as $6 a pack instead of the legal $12 to $13 per pack, is as easy as walking into any convenience store in Brooklyn, or any part of New York.

In recent months, over 12 recommendations have been made to various crime commissions on the east coast. One of which includes, dedicating more funding for enforcement, as well as increasing penalties for tobacco smuggling. Besides the lost revenue, organized crime is a growing problem, according to the Virginia State Crime Commission. Crimes that include: gangs stealing peoples' identities, to buy cigarettes in large quantities, using fake credit cards. These schemes can be expansive. Maryland was included in an indictment in the state of New York, after it was discovered that a ring of smugglers were flooding New York city and Albany, New York with more than a million cartons of untaxed cigarettes imported from Virginia. The investigation found $55 million in unlawful cigarette sales and more than $80 million in lost state sales-tax revenue.

No matter how one looks at this, it is a crime to smuggle Tobacco from one state to another. Taxes and loss of revenue by states and the federal government are affected.

October 11, 2012

There Are More Gun Deaths Then Automobile Deaths in the DMV

According to a report published by the Violence Policy Center, in 2010, gun deaths outnumber motor vehicle deaths in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control was used to complete this report.

In the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) there were a total of 1,512 gun deaths in 2010 and 1,280 motor vehicle deaths. Specifically: 99 firearm deaths and 38 motor vehicle deaths in the District of Columbia, 538 firearm deaths and 514 motor vehicle deaths in Maryland, and in Virginia there were 875 firearm deaths and 728 motor vehicle deaths.

Firearm deaths, nationwide, in 2010, were 31,672 and 35,498 motor vehicle deaths. Firearms are the only consumer product sold in the United States that is not regulated by the federal government for health and safety. Automobile safety, however; has been overseen by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 1966.
Deaths as a result of firearm use almost equal motor vehicle deaths even though there are about three times as many vehicles on the road then firearms.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is responsible in enforcing the U.S.'s limited gun laws, but it has none of the health and safety regulatory powers as the NHTSA. The health and safety regulations of firearms are left to the individual state.

The report published by the Violence Policy Center offers a few policy recommendations in order to improve data collection on firearms violence, increase regulation of the firearms industry and to reduce gun deaths and injuries. Some of their suggestions are:

- Detailed and timely data collection of gun production, sale, use in different crimes;
- The analysis of the types, make and models of firearms that are commonly or most often associated with injury, crimes and death;
- The implementation of safety standards for firearms
- Ban the sale of non sporting purpose guns;
- Limit the firepower of guns sold to the public;
- Expand the categories of persons prohibited from owning and possessing guns;
- Implement better restrictions on the carrying of loaded guns in public places;
- Person with a history of domestic violence and mental health issues should be restricted from being able to own and possess firearms; and
- Educate the public, through campaigns, about the risks associated with firearms.

If, these suggestions are taken into consideration by local, state and the federal governments, firearms deaths could be prevented. For more information visit the various websites sited.

May 31, 2012

Gun Deaths Versus Motor Vehicle Deaths in Virginia

There are more gun deaths than motor vehicle related deaths in Virginia and 9 other states then in the rest of the United States. According to a 2009 federal government analysis there were 836 gun deaths and 827 motor vehicle related deaths in Virginia. Many believe this is the case because in the United States firearms are not subject to federal health and safety regulations. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is the organization assigned to regulate and enforce the limited gun laws in the U.S., yet it has none of the health and safety regulatory powers given to other federal agencies.

The other 9 states where gun deaths surpassed motor vehicle deaths are:

Alaska: 104 gun deaths, 84 motor vehicle deaths
Arizona: 856 gun deaths, 809 motor vehicle deaths
Colorado: 583 gun deaths, 565 motor vehicle deaths
Indiana: 735 gun deaths, 715 motor vehicle deaths
Michigan: 1,095 gun deaths, 977 motor vehicle deaths
Nevada: 406 gun deaths, 255 motor vehicle deaths
Oregon: 417 gun deaths, 394 motor vehicle deaths
Utah: 260 gun deaths, 256 motor vehicle deaths
Washington: 623 gun deaths, 580 motor vehicle deaths