WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) introduced bicameral legislation aimed at reducing gun violence by preventing the theft of firearms from federally-licensed gun dealers (FFLs).
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The SECURE (Safety Enhancements for Communities Using Reasonable and Effective) Firearm Storage Act would address the problem of “smash and grab” gun store burglaries by requiring all firearms to be securely stored when a federally licensed gun dealer is not open for business. Additionally, the bill would authorize the Attorney General to review and put forth additional security measures to reduce the risk of theft and requires a new section on the FFL Application for an applicant to describe security plans before a license can be approved.
Gun thefts from FFLs are a significant problem across the country. In 2020, FFLs reported 492 burglaries to the ATF, and a total of 5,961 firearms were reported stolen during the burglaries. Many stolen guns are later used to commit violent crimes. The Chicago Tribune recently reported on a gun stolen from a Wisconsin gun store in 2016 – that gun has since been linked to 27 shootings in Chicago.
“Illinois is awash in guns that come from other states with weaker gun safety laws. Our bill would help prevent ‘smash and grab’ burglaries which supply criminals with weapons they use to carry out acts of violence in our streets. This common-sense measure will help stem the flow of guns into Illinois and prevent bloodshed in our neighborhoods,” Durbin said.
“Almost 60,000 guns have been stolen since 2012. It doesn’t have to be this way. It simply requires gun dealers to take the responsible step of securing their inventory. The commonsense, practical reforms in the SECURE Firearm Storage Act ensure gun dealers are properly safeguarding their inventory so fewer of these weapons can be easily stolen and later used in violent crimes. I am pleased to introduce this bill with the support of Sen. Durbin and many of my colleagues, and hope that this Congress we find the courage to act legislatively to save lives from the scourge of gun violence,” said Schneider.
Thefts of guns from FFLs can be deterred by reasonable security measures, and FFLs that fail to take such measures have been the targets of recent burglaries. For example, in April of this year, thieves took 42 firearms from three gun shops in North Texas. In May, two burglars stole approximately 18 firearms from a gun store in Pewee Valley, KY. Just last month, thieves stole upwards of 50 firearms from a gun store in Boswell, OK. Such thefts could be prevented if FFLs ensured that their guns were stored securely after business hours.
Along with Durbin, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Chris Murphy (D-CT). In the House, original cosponsors include Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Tom Suozzi (NY-03), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Ted Deutch (FL-22), Jim Langevin (RI-02), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Jim McGovern (MA-02), and Mike Quigley (IL-05). The legislation has been endorsed by Brady, the Center for American Progress, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords.
In order to decrease the loss or theft of guns from FFLs, the SECURE Firearm Storage Act would take several common-sense measures. It would:
- Require FFLs, when their premises are closed, to secure all firearms in their inventory either by fastening them to an anchored steel rod or storing them in a locked safe or gun cabinet;
- Require FFLs to store all paper records of firearms transactions in a secure location so the records can be preserved in case they are needed for crime gun tracing investigations;
- Authorize the Attorney General to prescribe regulations with additional security requirements relating to alarm and security cameras, site hardening on FFL premises, and security of electronic records;
- Provide that an FFL that fails to follow these security requirements would face a civil penalty for the first violation; possible FFL license suspension for the second violation; and possible license revocation upon a third violation; and
- Add a new section to the FFL application for applicants to describe how they will comply with these security requirements, and direct the Attorney General to ensure that an applicant’s plan will be a complaint before approving a license application.
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