Firearm Industry-ATF Partnership Leads to Dramatic Decrease in Burglaries, Gun Thefts
By Larry Keane
New reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) show the partnership between law enforcement and the firearm industry to reduce criminal firearm retailer break-ins, burglaries and gun thefts is working.
Firearm sales in 2021 remain on a close pace to the all-time record of 2020. While Americans from all backgrounds are voting for the Second Amendment with their wallets and purses at the gun store retail counter, gun retailers are finding more success at protecting their businesses and communities by stepping up voluntary security improvements.
Results to Celebrate
The firearm industry trade association partners with ATF to provide resources to firearm retailers to reduce criminal break-ins at retail stores. The Operation Secure Store® (OSS) initiative focuses on five key areas, including Education and Awareness, Assessment and Risk Analysis, Planning and Strategy, Engagement and Response. During the current 18 month stretch of record firearm sales, retailers utilizing OSS resources have seen proven results that are praiseworthy.
During the first six months of 2021, ATF reported 111 firearm retail burglaries that resulted in an estimated 959 stolen firearms. The same six-month stretch in 2020 saw 284 burglaries and more than 3,700 stolen firearms. These numbers correlate to 61 percent fewer burglaries and a 71 percent reduction in stolen firearms. Every criminal break-in that is thwarted and every firearm that remains secured and out of the hands of criminals means safer communities throughout the United States.
ATF Acting Director Marvin G. Richardson praised the partnership between ATF, firearm retailers and the firearm industry. “This data demonstrates that our collaborative efforts to secure FFL inventories are making a positive difference. It is yet another way that ATF works diligently to reduce violent crime in our communities.”
NSSF’s Larry Keane echoed Richardson’s sentiments. “This data shows that the firearm industry’s proactive partnerships with the ATF is yielding the results that make our communities safer. This is what effective firearm safety looks like,” Keane said.
Staying the Course
Any stolen firearm is one too many. It’s why the firearm industry doesn’t just work with ATF and retailers to prevent burglaries and thefts, but also offers matching rewards after a theft occurs. Offering rewards often helps spur on community cooperation and encourages anyone with information to help authorities bring criminals to justice.
Speaking after a firearm burglary in Kentucky last month, ATF Louisville Field Division Group Supervisor Adam Nesmith reinforced the importance of this incentive. “Any stolen firearm is a very serious thing. You don’t want the stolen firearms to end up in the hands of a dangerous person,” he said. “We put those still images out with the reward for information hoping the public recognizes those individuals and let us know who they are.”
Ben Romanoff, General Manager at ACE Sporting Goods in South Strabane, Pa., understands how important personal and family safety has been to law-abiding Pennsylvanians who flooded his store to purchase firearms and get safety education and practice. Keeping his store safe and secure from break-ins is paramount.
“We’re proud that we provide firearms,” Romanoff said. “The people in our community know that we do all we can to secure our firearms; working with NSSF, working with other dealers, working with law enforcement.” Retailers across the country are doing their part and the ATF report shows the efforts are paying off.
Real Solutions. Safer Communities.®
Operation Secure Store is one of several safety initiatives on which NSSF leads. Don’t Lie for the Other Guy™ helps ATF to educate retailers on the warning signs of illegal straw purchases. When someone lies on an FBI background check form and attempts to buy a firearm for someone who can’t do so themselves, they face up to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Project ChildSafe® has partnered with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies in all 50 states and the five U.S. territories to distribute more than 40 million free firearm safety kits that include a locking device. FixNICS® is an ongoing effort to provide resources and encourage states and federal agencies to submit adjudicated and prohibitive mental health records to the FBI NICS system to ensure people who shouldn’t own a firearm are unable to purchase one from a retailer. NSSF also partners with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to give tools to firearm retailers and ranges to have a brave conversation before a tragedy and prevent suicide.
NSSF’s Real Solutions® campaign has helped to achieve the lowest number of unintentional firearm fatalities since data was first tracked in 1903. As Americans keep exercising their right to purchase and possess firearms, the firearm industry remains committed to ensuring retailers have resources to continue their successful efforts at keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals. This important work remains critical to the entire gun-owning community.