© 2024 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In The Kansas City Metro, Firearms Dealers Outnumber QuikTrips 6-to1

U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed 525 federal firearms licenses in the nine-county Kansas City metro area.

Two big box stores' announcements this week changing policies on gun sales will affect seven Dick's Sporting Goods stores and eight WalMarts in the Kansas City metro.

On Wednesday, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced it would end all sales of assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, and raise the age limit to 21 for purchasing guns. Walmart also put similar new restrictions in place.

But places to buy guns will remain plentiful. A KCUR analysis of 2016 data from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives showed 525 federal firearms licenses in the nine-county metro area.

The licenses cover large and small dealerships, including individual dealers operating out of homes, pawn shops, gun stores, manufacturers and big box stores.

The ATF’s Kansas City field division, which covers Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska, oversees the largest number of federal firearms licensed dealerships in the United States, said John Ham, an ATF spokesman. It includes 1,861 dealerships in Kansas and 4,703 in Missouri, which is double the amount of licenses in comparable states like Kentucky or Alabama.

For a sense of scale: Licensed dealers in the Kansas City area outnumber QuikTrips six-to-one.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives listed 523 federal firearm licensed dealerships in the nine-county metro Kansas City area in 2016. (Map by Celia Llopis-Jepsen, KCUR 89.3)

The ATF data does not account for all the weaponry in the metro area, because it does not reflect illegal sales on the internet or firearms obtained by theft, private sales or trading.

Most weapons involved in U.S. mass shootings were obtained through legal sources, according to a recent Washington Post analysis. At least 167 of mass shooters’ weapons were purchased legally and 49 were obtained illegally. It’s unclear how 76 weapons were acquired, the Post reported.

Peggy Lowe is an investigative reporter at KCUR. She’s on Twitter at @peggyllowe.

I’m a veteran investigative reporter who came up through newspapers and moved to public media. I want to give people a better understanding of the criminal justice system by focusing on its deeper issues, like institutional racism, the poverty-to-prison pipeline and police accountability. Today this beat is much different from how reporters worked it in the past. I’m telling stories about people who are building significant civil rights movements and redefining public safety. Email me at lowep@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
Your donation helps keep nonprofit journalism free and available for everyone.