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December 17, 2018

Security Tips To Stay Secure This Holiday Season

By John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team Member

Although the holidays are a time to celebrate, FFLs need to take a few extra security precautions before settling in to relax after the rush of the retail excitement, long hours and hard work. While we can all use a few days off to ring in the New Year and recuperate, the bad guys are continuing to plan their evil deeds and may be targeting your business for a burglary.

We are continuing to see burglaries at FFLs across the nation. Early indicators are telling us burglaries may be down since this time last year, but trends do show burglars committing their crimes when law enforcement staffing is minimized, and you can count on this being the case on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and Day.

Now more than ever is the time to be proactive and be prepared. We encourage you to use the following physical security checklist as you prepare your facility for extended holiday closings or altered hours of operation:

  • If possible, remove handguns from easily accessible showcases and secure in floor display safes, stockroom safes or behind other locked interior doors (stockrooms, offices, etc.).
  • Plan ahead and purchase shielded wire cables from your hardware store. String these cables through long-gun trigger guards and secure to display fixtures with padlocks.
  • Create signs that state “All Guns Removed for the Holiday” and tape them to front and rear windows to alert would-be burglars that you planned for their crime.
  • Leave all interior lights on to create the impression of staff being onsite and working the overnight shift. This also allows cars and police passing by to have full view of your store’s interior.
  • Test your video recording system, making sure your cameras are all functioning properly and your DVRs are recording from all cameras.
  • Conduct an alarm test through to your central monitoring station to ensure your door contacts, motion sensors, glass break sensors and other devices are working correctly.
  • Update your alarm call list with current phone numbers and ensure everyone knows they are on call for emergency response.
  • Replace all burned-out light bulbs in parking and perimeter lights.
  • Make sure all roof hatches and HVAC access panels are locked and secured.
  • Move display gun safes or other stacked pallets of merchandise to the front of your store to prevent easy access by smash-and-grab vandals. It takes only two or three minutes for the bad guys to crash in, ransack and leave your location with stolen firearms. Do your best to slow down this process by creating obstacles to easy and quick access.
  • Park extra vehicles in front of main entries and exits, including fire doors if possible. This may mean using delivery vehicles and personal employee cars as a deterrent for a few nights, but it can certainly be worth the effort. This is also a great substitute for not having bollards already installed outside.
  • Block rear fire and receiving area exits with pallets and gun safes, but do so only when you close the business for the day. (Remember your “life safety” rules — you don’t want to block fire exits when anyone is in the store.)
  • Remove any easily accessible rocks or bricks from the front of your store that may otherwise be used by vandals to smash your glass.
  • It’s never too late to reinforce your glass windows, doors or showcases with Lexan security film. When properly installed, the film will hold your glass in place, even when smashed, and deter firearms losses. Contact Ian or Jeff at Window Film Depot your NSSF’s security film affinity partner, Window Film Depot, at 866-933-3456. They service FFLs nationwide.
  • And where and if appropriate, leave Fido in the store overnight. Guard dogs are still an effective defense against unwanted intruders.

NSSF’s Store Security Audit team is standing by to assist you with physical or operational security and safety issue, including post-burglary crisis management. NSSF also partners with a variety of security product vendors. Login to the NSSF Member portal to discover more.

Finally, we’d like to encourage everyone reading this to attend our SHOT Show Retailer Seminar “Operation Secure Store and Risk Assessment” taking place Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 1:00 p.m. This session will detail NSSF’s newest partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to launch our Operation Secure Store program. NSSF’s Security Team Members John Clark and Bill Napier, whom many of you are familiar with, and I will lead this seminar to outline the program’s numerous resources, explain how today’s gang network targeting firearms dealers is a nationwide problem and detail cost-effective security layering practices you can implement immediately.

Register Now

The full list of 2019 SHOT Show Retailer Seminars is available here. Each session is just $25 for NSSF members and non-members. Once you’ve completed your registration to attend the 2019 SHOT Show, simply add the seminars of your choice (including the ATF Town Hall, which will have a $0.00 fee) to your shopping cart. As a reminder, our standard retail and range members are entitled to free admission to one seminar of their choice (beyond the free Town Hall), while our Premium members can attend two sessions on the house. Members should contact John McNamara, NSSF Senior Director, Retail and Range Services, at for the code that will take the price of their session/s down to $0.00 during checkout.

About the Author
John Bocker is an NSSF Security and Compliance Team member and the co-founder at FFL Consultants, a small-business security and strategy consulting organization specializing in commercial security and ATF-FFL compliance. Our goal is to educate the industry and protecting FFLs against unexpected losses resulting from burglary, robbery and internal control failures. Have a question regarding this article? Contact John at (720) 336-0028.

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