A proposal to overhaul federal firearms laws to mandate security systems and more frequent inspection of gun stores was proposed by New York State congressman Joe Morelle on May 10th. A two year investigation by The Trace and The New Yorker showed how weak security measures have led to escalating gun store theft and tracked stolen weapons that criminals used to rob and kill people.
The bill which Morelle introduced is 17-pages long, and would require the attorney general to create rules that make sure gun stores are protected against theft. These rules would require gun store owners to use locked metal safes and cabinets, surveillance cameras and alarm systems, as well as bollards (which are short posts staked outside to prevent a car from ramming through the storefront). Owners who violate these regulations could be fined up to $20,000 and even forced to close their business. Additionally, Morelle is also recommending that federal investigators visit guns stores at least once every 3 years. If a store is particularly problematic, he recommends doing it annually. The bill would authorize the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to hire an additional 650 employees, which would double its current group of inspectors. The bill would broaden access to federal data on guns used in crimes as well which has been a goal of researchers and journalists wishing to probe the ways that firearms enter the black market.
There are other potential security mandates being sponsored by democrats as well, but neither of them sound as good as Morelle’s. One being introduced by Senator Dick Durbin and the other by Representative Brad Schneider. The caveat that makes them seem inferior is the fact that neither of them authorize the hiring of additional ATF personnel. Morelle believes that the extra inspectors are needed to increase the chances of penalties in case a stores security system falls below par.
Currently, there is no federal law which requires firearm stores to adopt any specific security measures. It’s odd when you think about it, as other institutions such as pharmacies, explosives dealers, and banks are held to strict security standards. There have been a small number of states that have tried to address this by implementing mandates on gun stores within their own borders, but those rules aren’t always held as high as they should be. In the past, store owners have been resistant to these security requirement attempts because they believe the costs are a threat to their already low-margin business. Gun rights groups have also been strongly opposed to the idea.
While this bill might not be the solution to America’s gun problems, it can at least help suppress it. If this will help prevent guns getting into the wrong people’s hands, then it’s a step in the right direction.