August 10, 2017
Stopping Crime Means Locking Up Criminals, Not Shackling Businesses
The aggressively progressive Center for American Progress, also known for its anti-gun policy articulations, in a recent report manages to acknowledge that federally licensed firearms retailers (FFLs), as well as the industry as a whole, do indeed take steps to reduce thefts. The report misses the mark on several other fronts, however.
We understand it’s trendy in policy circles to present sets of state-by-state data. Nothing captures the attention of local news media more than a state ranking of pretty much anything. Unfortunately, the media fail to ask important questions such as, why is it surprising that more firearms are stolen in regions where more firearms are legally owned and where there are more FFLs selling firearms to law-abiding citizens? Would it make the news that more cars were stolen in population-dense areas with more car owners?
It is no surprise that there are more instances of thefts from gun stores in certain states where there are more FFLs and more legal firearms owners. The bigger problem with this report is that it puts the onus on FFLs and gun owners to prevent criminal activity, arguing for federal and state legislation that would impose new one-size-fits-all practices on businesses with different security needs.
The report calls for actions including the enactment of “federal legislation to require licensed gun dealers to implement certain minimum security measures, such as securely storing guns after business hours and installing alarm systems and cameras” and elimination of “the rider on ATF’s budget that prevents the agency from requiring licensed gun dealers to conduct an annual inventory reconciliation.”
Focus on Deterring, Stopping Criminal Activity, Not Mandates on Law-Abiding Businesses and Individuals
FFLs are certainly aware of thefts and determine the most appropriate secure storage practices to protect their inventory, without which they have no business. But, criminals are the problem here and imposing new mandates on FFLs doesn’t change that.
That’s not to say there’s no role for policy changes. NSSF supports the passage of federal legislation, the soon-to-be-introduced Federal Firearms License Protection Act of 2017, to strengthen criminal penalties for theft of firearms from FFLs and require mandatory minimum sentences. This legislation would help deter criminals from becoming repeat offenders and would send a strong message to criminals engaged in this activity.
Despite the trendiness of state rankings, it’s important to keep the focus on the solutions that will have an impact on criminal activity – not on imposing ill-fitting mandates on law-abiding businesses and gun owners.
Part of the industry’s commitment to do more is the launch of a new project, in cooperation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Operation Secure Store brings together in one program such ongoing activities as retailer security seminars run in cooperation with ATF and store security audits with affinity partnerships for video cameras, guard services, doors, Locks, window film, bollards/crash barriers, theft-resistant display case discounts and inventory management software. Additionally, NSSF continues the practice of offering matching rewards with ATF to help solve theft cases.