Freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle (NY) introduced the "Gun Theft Protection Act," which would strengthen firearm stores' storage requirements.
“Across America, we are facing an epidemic of gun violence. Over 30% of guns identified in a crime have been stolen – yet licensed gun dealers are not required to take even the most basic precautions to protect these dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands," Morelle said in a statement.
“In my district, a single gun store has been burglarized seven times since 2007 alone – and last year, they were burglarized twice in one week. This is negligent, it is dangerous, and we must do everything in our power to prevent it from continuing," the Congressman said. "That’s why I’m so proud to introduce this legislation to strengthen regulations for gun shops and better protect our streets from the devastation of gun violence.”
According to Morelle, the bill would:
• Require employees that have access to firearms to pass the same background check as a gun buyer.
• Allow ATF to require gun shop owners to keep an inventory of the firearms in their stock and conduct an annual inventory reconciliation to see if any guns are missing.
• Create strong enforcement mechanisms, including license suspension or revocation, for dealers that repeatedly fail to meet minimum security requirements.
• Authorize an additional 650 ATF personnel dedicated to conducting dealer inspections and enforcement.
• Require individual gun owners to report lost and stolen firearms to local police and the ATF.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearm industry trade association, has established Operation Secure Store, which tackles this very issue.
The NSSF began partnering with the ATF in 2018 to bring down the number of guns stolen from Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs). The NSSF matches any reward for information that leads to the successful arrest of those responsible for stealing firearms from an FFL.
NSSF and ATF frequently put on seminars for retails, with the emphasis being solely on securing firearms.
The trade association also offers in-depth security audits for retailers. Those who are members of the NSSF can get discounts on products and services through affinity partnerships. The group has endorsed the use of security products such as protective window film and smash-resistant display cases.
Although there are multiple resources available to FFLs, it's important for people like Morelle to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach is harmful. Every store has different needs and different assets and liabilities. A big box store like Cabela's, Bass Pro Shop and Sportsman's Warehouse are going to have better security features than a mom and pop gun store. Part of that is just the sure volume of business big box store chains do. They have more money to spend on big gun safes and space to store them.
There are things that smaller retailers can do to secure their firearms, like wall cable locks for rifles and shotguns, that aren't as costly but are just as affective.
Having the weight of this added regulation makes it sound as though gun stores want to be robbed, when that's not the case at all. They want to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals just as bad as anti-gunners do.
There are quite a few assumptions made in Morelle's proposal. He wants it to be a requirement that gun stores call the police when firearms are stolen. Pretty much all do. One, so they're not legally liable should someone get hurt with those firearms and two, so their insurance pays them for their stolen goods.
He also wants employees to go through a background check before they're able to sell firearms. Every gun store I've ever been in has required employees to be concealed carriers and have a concealed carry permit. Part of having a CCW permit means going through a background to get said permit.
Prosecuting and going after gun dealers though doesn't change that criminals still want to illegally obtain firearms. This could set the stage for only big box store chains to sell guns and wipe out mom and pop businesses.
While this bill is great in theory, it won't do anything to actually change anything. And, in the end, all it will do is hurt small family-run businesses.