AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
If there’s one measure the Right and Left should be able to agree on, it’s trying to crack down on thefts of firearms from gun stores. Where we diverge tends to be in how to do so. The anti-gun crusaders want to create layers of regulations and requirements that make it virtually impossible for a gun store to conduct business. They want things like transporting all firearms into a safe or other such nonsense.
On the flip side, we have proposals like the one introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) today is commending U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) introduction of S. 1788, the Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act of 2019, which will strengthen the criminal penalties for thefts of firearms from federally licensed retailers.
“Thefts from federally licensed firearms retailers represent particularly brazen offenses that hold potential for additional crime when stolen guns are sold on the street,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act is a significant reinforcement of our federal laws to help deter both first-time and repeat violators and to ensure those convicted of these crimes serve serious time. We thank Senator Graham for his leadership to deliver real solutions to make our communities safer across America.”
Sen. Graham’s proposed legislation would strengthen criminal penalties for theft of firearms from FFLs to help prevent criminals from becoming repeat offenders. It sends a strong message to criminals engaged in this nefarious activity that law enforcement partners and the firearms industry consider these crimes as a significant threat to community safety and will use all tools of prevention and law enforcement to protect the American public.
A similar bill, HR 2179, was introduced in the House under the same name.
If there’s any interest among Democrats at all in finding common ground on guns, they should show it by backing this bill. There’s nothing in here that should be objectionable to anyone. All it does is increase penalties for those who would steal from gun stores.
The bill is backed primarily by a number of Republicans in the Senate, which is all they should need there. The House version, however, needs the backing of Democrats to even get a vote.
So far, two Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors, Reps. Jared Golden of Maine and Jefferson Van Drew from New Jersey.
That a New Jersey Democrat backed a bill like this is certainly a promising sign, but I’m a little skeptical of its passage. While this bill is meant to address the problem in such a way that only the criminals committing the crimes are being punished, I can see Democrats refusing to back it for a number of reasons. Mostly I can see them saying it doesn’t do enough and demand additions to the bill that will punish law-abiding gun stores and citizens.
I’d love to be wrong on this, mind you, but I haven’t seen much in the way of reason from House Democrats lately. Of course, I may just be cynical. Perhaps Democrats will rally behind this and we’ll get some bipartisanship for a change, especially since a bill like this can do two things. For one, the increased penalties might create a deterrent to the thefts in general. That’s a best case scenario, but the reality is that some criminals will think they can get away with it and not worry about the time in prison. That’s where the flip side of this comes into play.
You see, when those criminals commit their crimes, are caught, then sent away for a good long time, what we have is a reduced number of criminals on the streets. They can’t break into gun stores if they’re behind bars. I’m not about to suggest they’ll be reformed afterward, but I do think they might redirect their criminal efforts if the sentence is harsh enough.
That alone should be enough reason for politicians on both sides to back it.
And if it reduces the proliferation of black market firearms, shouldn’t that be a win we can all get behind? Too bad I can foresee the usual suspects working to undermine legislation like this. In my more paranoid moments, I can see them working against it for just that reason.