Gun Lost in Transit? The Feds Want to Know

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has proposed a new rule that would require firearm dealers, manufacturers, and importers to report to the federal and local authorities if a gun has been lost in the mail. The time allotted for sending the report would be just two days.

Via the Washington Times:

The rule’s goal is to crack down on potential guns lost in transit and then used in crimes. Federal regulations already require firearm dealers to report guns lost in their inventories within 48 hours after discovery, but there’s no reporting regulations on guns lost in transit.

Within the last 15 years, gun thefts that happen during transport have increased 20 percent, the ATF said. From 2008 to 2012 there were about 1,500 cases where agents traced guns that weren’t reported as missing and dealers said they never received them, the agency said.

However, Larry Keane of the National Shooting Sports Foundation thinks otherwise:

Out of the millions of guns shipped each year, the number lost in transit is minimal, said Larry Keane, a senior vice president for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry. What this proposed rule will do is add increased burden and cost on the dealers who ship the guns, leading to fewer jobs and higher prices on the consumers who want to purchase the firearms, he said.

“There’s already in place voluntary reporting when guns are lost or stolen in transit, and ATF has never said members aren’t cooperating or this is even a problem,” Mr. Keane said. “Manufactures work very closely with ATF when situations arise to help in the investigation — which usually ends up to be someone in the common carrier — but these cases are exceedingly rare.”

Keane also said that it would make more sense if the rule were to be switched around. “The proposed rule would require the sender to alert authorities when the gun goes missing. But Keane said it should instead be the receiver who notifies the authorities. ‘If they don’t get what they paid for and it doesn’t arrive, then they’re more likely to know that it went amiss than the manufacturer who sent it out,’ he said.”

The ATF is will be taking comments from the public for the next 90 days.

–Kara Jones