Durbin, Schneider Introduce Legislation To Reduce Gun Violence From Stolen Firearms

More than 8,100 guns were stolen in 2017 from Federal Firearms Licensees; bill would require more effective secure storage measures

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider (D-IL-10) today introduced bicameral legislation aimed at reducing gun violence by preventing the theft of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), or federally-licensed dealers, manufacturers, and importers.  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 require the Attorney General to review and put forth additional security measures to reduce the risk of theft, and create 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 rising problem across the country. According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), 8,129 firearms were reported stolen from FFLs in 2017, a figure that has more than doubled from the 3,451 reported in 2013. Many stolen guns were later used to commit violent crime. A report from the Center for American Progress showed during the six-year period between January 2010 and December 2015, 9,736 guns recovered by police in connection with a crime and traced by ATF had been reported stolen or lost from gun stores.

“We know that too many guns are getting into the hands of dangerous people—that’s why 97 percent of Americans support background checks for gun sales,” said Durbin. “But there is a growing trend of criminals getting guns by breaking into gun shops after business hours and stealing the guns on display. Those guns are often used to commit violent crimes.  These thefts can be deterred by reasonable security measures, including requiring gun dealers to properly secure their firearms inventory after hours.  Congress must summon the courage to pass common sense reforms that will reduce gun violence, and this bill should be part of that conversation.”

“Our country is suffering from an epidemic of gun violence, and stolen firearms represent a growing source of the guns used in these crimes,” said Schneider. “While we work to improve our nation’s background check system, we also need to tamp down on ways dangerous individuals can avoid the system, including using stolen firearms. Our bill makes commonsense, practical reforms to 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.”

In a July 2017 editorial, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote the SECURE Firearm Storage Act is “so obviously right it’s hard to believe it is even necessary.”  This federal legislation builds upon efforts in Illinois and other states to require gun dealers to better secure their inventory from theft, including the Combating Illegal Gun Trafficking Act that ws recently signed into law by Governor Pritzker.

Along with Durbin, the bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

Full text of the legislation is available here.

Specifically, the SECURE (Safety Enhancements for Communities Using Reasonable and Effective) Firearm Storage Act would:

  • Require federally-licensed firearms dealers (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 and site hardening on FFL premises as well as securing electronic records;
  • Provide that an FFL that fails to follow these security requirements would face a civil penalty for the first violation; FFL license suspension for the second violation; and 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 complaint before approving a license application.