While we’re finally expected to see a drop-off in overall crime, violent crime and murder rates for 2017, there is one number that is still steadily on the rise: gun store thefts.
According to a new report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives (ATF), a record number of federally-licensed firearms dealers were burglarized and robbed in 2017.
There were a whopping 577 gun stores burglaries last year, approximately a three-percent increase from 2016 during which 558 stores were burglarized, and a 70-percent increase from 2013.
The number of robberies has also steadily climbed over the past five years. In 2013, there were only nine reported robberies. By 2016, that number had risen nearly 267-percent to 33. While that number didn’t increase in 2017, it didn’t decrease either.
Of course, more burglaries also means more stolen firearms. Since 2013, the number of firearms snatched during burglaries has more than doubled, from 3,355 in 2013 to 7,841 in 2017. Interestingly enough, the number of guns stolen during robberies decreased in 2017 from the previous year, even though the same number of robberies took place. In 2016, 370 guns were taken, while in 2017 only 288 were grabbed. Still, that’s a 200-percent increase over the past five years.
In an effort to get these numbers back down, various pieces of legislation have been introduced at both the federal and state levels.
In September, SB 464 landed on California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, which would’ve required gun shop owners to implement at least one new security measure from an approved list, such as storing firearms in a shatter proof display case or installing steel, roll-down doors on perimeter doors and floor-to-ceiling windows. The bill, to many’s surprise, was vetoed by Brown.
In December, State Representative Lisa Subeck introduced similar legislation, known as AB 728, in Wisconsin. The bill, if passed, would require gun shop owners to store all firearms in a secured safe or steel gun cabinet, or on a secured rod or cable.
At the federal level, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Safety Enhancements for Communities Using Reasonable and Effective (SECURE) Firearm Storage Act. The bill, like Subeck’s, would require federally-licensed firearms dealers to secure all firearms in a locked gun safe or cabinet, or secure them with a steel rod. Licensed dealers would also be penalized for failing to comply with these new regulations, and could even have their licenses revoked.
Earlier that year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also introduced the Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act, which would enhance penalties for those convicted of stealing from a federally-licensed firearms dealer.
Unsurprisingly, Graham’s proposal is the only one to receive considerable support from the Second Amendment community. The other pieces of legislation have drawn ire from the NRA and gun shop owners who believe such requirements are too costly and designed to force smaller dealers out of business. And, let’s not forget, fewer dealers means less accessibility to firearms for law-abiding citizens.