Bill introduced to stiffen penalties for theft from FFLs

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

The Second Amendment is clear on its meaning. It’s doubtful that the number of infringements to the right to keep and bear arms get repealed to the point of saying “whoa, that’s too much freedom.” The right is impacted in many other ways, one of which would be the commerce of arms. The lawful commerce in arms is an important part of safeguarding the Second Amendment, but it’s also a risky business. On April 13th, 2023, a bill was introduced to “enhance penalties for theft of a firearm from a Federal firearms licensee.”


Representative John Rutherford, R-Fla., introduced H.R.2620 will change the penalties of robberies and burglaries of FFLs. The applicable portion of Federal Code we’re looking at is section 922(u) of chapter 44, in defining the act.

922 (u) of chapter 44 reads:

(u) It shall be unlawful for a person to steal or unlawfully take or carry away from the person or the premises of a person who is licensed to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, any firearm in the licensee’s business inventory that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.

The entirety of the bill text is as follows:

To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to enhance penalties for theft of a firearm from a Federal firearms licensee.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the “Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act of 2023”.


Section 924 of title 18, United States Code, is amended—

(1) by striking subsection (i) and inserting the following:

“(i) (1) (A) A person who knowingly violates section 922(u), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

“(B) In the case of a violation described in subparagraph (A) that occurs during the commission of—

“(i) a burglary, the term of imprisonment shall be not less than 3 years; or

“(ii) a robbery, the term of imprisonment shall be not less than 5 years.

“(2) In this subsection—

“(A) the term ‘burglary’ means the unlawful entry into, or remaining in, the business premises of a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer with the intent to commit a crime; and

“(B) the term ‘robbery’ has the meaning given the term in section 1951(b).”; and

(2) in subsection (m), by inserting “, or attempts to do so,” after “or licensed collector”.


The bill, if it were to become law, would double the current 10 year maximum sentence for stealing from an FFL. The bill also aims to add minimum mandatory sentences. In the event of a person being convicted of a burglary, they’d be looking at a minimum of three years imprisonment. In the event of a robbery, a person convicted as such would be looking at a five year minimum sentence.

This bill does nothing to directly impact the Second Amendment negatively or positively, however, by adding harsher penalties to such acts could act as a deterrent. As the bill’s title suggests, such measures could protect FFLs. This bill is not likely to pass both chambers of Congress and progress to be signed by the President. Further, if it were to reach Biden-Harris, it’s doubtful they’d support a harsh on crime measure.

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