Press Release

David Chipman on New ATF Report Showing Alarming Rise in Number of Gun Store Burglaries in the Last Five Years, Totaling 2,315 Break-Ins

New Jersey, with stronger security requirements for gun dealers, has reported only two break-ins at stores over the same period of time

January 16, 2018 — For the fifth year in a row, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), reported a rise in the number of burglaries at gun stores. The ATF’s annual Federal Firearms Licensee Burglary and Robbery Statistics report released today found there were 577 burglaries in 2017, an increase from 558 in 2016. Since 2013, 27,685 guns were reported stolen in 2,315 burglaries from gun stores licensed by the federal government, including 7,841 guns last year.

While federal law requires gun dealers to maintain a license with ATF, there are no regulations for building security or secure storage of inventory. It is up to states to pass reasonable security requirements of their own. In states with security requirements for gun store owners – like New Jersey – the rate of burglary is dramatically lower.Over the past five years in New Jersey, there have been just two reported burglaries with a total of three guns stolen.

David Chipman, senior policy advisor at Giffords, and a retired ATF Special Agent of 25 years issued the following statement:

“Criminals know that gun stores can be easy targets to obtain armfuls of firearms in a matter of minutes. Every successful break-in opens a new threat to our community and puts law enforcement officers at risk. While we should all be alarmed and outraged that gun store burglaries increased for five years in a row, it’s important to remember that theft from gun stores is preventable — just look at what’s happening in New Jersey. When states require gun dealers to take responsible steps to prevent their stores from being burglarized — by properly securing not only their stores, but the firearms themselves — they eliminate the risk of thieves taking off with weapons. We know how to solve this problem, but we need more states to acknowledge this issue and put best practices for reducing gun store theft into action.”

New Jersey has stronger requirements for gun store owners to legally operate that go beyond federal law. In particular, in order to get a retail license from the state, one of the requirements is that the dealer must install a system “for the prevention and detection of the theft of firearms or ammunition from” his or her business premises. The plan for their security system must be submitted to the New Jersey State Police as part of a larger investigation into whether they have met all the requirements to obtain a license to sell.