Town Wants To Make Gun Stores Lock Up Inventory

There is really no industry quite as regulated as the firearm industry. From production to sale, inventory must be tracked so that the government can tell which firearm went where. They can even find out who it was sold to, at least initially.

Further, so much as a paperwork error could destroy your business for good. It’s not easy being in the gun industry.

However, one Colorado city wants to make it even more difficult.

Littleton has gone further than any other Colorado community in trying to put an end to brazen smash-and-grab burglaries at gun shops by requiring the businesses to secure their firearms after hours “in a locked safe, locked steel gun cabinet or secured safe room.”

City leaders last week unanimously passed an ordinance in response to increasingly aggressive burglaries of businesses that sell firearms, a problem that has affected numerous towns and cities in the state.

Colorado’s gun stores and pawnshops saw a total of 1,143 guns stolen from 2015 through 2019, according to data kept by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. That’s an annual average of nearly 230 guns stolen in the state during that period, ranging from a high of 460 in 2017 to a low of 121 in 2015.

But mandating after-hours storage of firearms is a bridge too far for gun rights advocacy group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Executive Director Taylor Rhodes told the Post that the measure is “just another example of government overreach to the nth degree.”

Littleton’s ordinance, Rhodes said, means that gun shop employees will have to spend time after closing — and again at the start of the day — to stow and then display their inventory.

The measure is onerous, he said, and flies in the face of a 2003 state law that bars a local government from prohibiting “the sale, purchase, or possession of a firearm” that is otherwise legal under state and federal law.

“This is gun control because this ordinance infringes on that dealer’s rights,” Rhodes said. “I’m pretty sure if this went to court it would be struck down.”

And let’s talk a bit about that effort to stow inventory, then return it to the shelves the next day.

If you go into some stores, in normal times, you’ll find dozens upon dozens of firearms on display. Each firearm in its place and waiting for someone to come in a buy it. Just how many depends on the store, but I’ve seen plenty of stores with hundreds of guns on display.

A law like this will increase costs to gun stores by adding labor that simply can’t be turned into profit. Plus, it’s a recurring expense unlike other attempts to prevent these kinds of break-ins like concrete pylons in front of windows and doors, bars on all glass points of entry, or cameras on the inside.

Those are at least capital costs. The stores spend the money once and then it’s over. This? It’s a whole different thing.

I get the desire to address these robberies. I really do. No one wants guns being stolen, especially since those thefts will put guns in the hands of the very criminals that are used to justify still more gun control.

But this isn’t the way to address that.