By Larry Keane
New ATF Data on FFL burglaries, robberies and the number of stolen guns confirms the firearm industry’s Operation Secure Store® makes communities safer.
Keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals takes a monumental effort. Partnerships between neighborhood gun store retailers, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are critical and a multifaceted endeavor.
The firearm industry’s Operation Secure Store® (OSS) is a pillar partnership with ATF and DOJ to provide brick-and-mortar firearm retailers with educational resources and services to better secure their inventory and reduce robberies and burglaries.
New data released by ATF confirms once again OSS makes communities safer. The number of FFL burglaries and robberies and the number of stolen firearms are all lower than they were last year. This is great news and the data continues a downward trend since 2017.
First Line of Defense
“Retailers are the first line of defense against criminals and would-be criminals,” said NSSF President and CEO Joe Bartozzi in testimony to the Connecticut state legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee. He stated it to members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee last year, too. When neighborhood firearm retailers use industry tools and resources through OSS to improve their inventory security, they are backstopping against possible criminal behavior that could endanger their communities. No one wants that.
The new ATF data, from the report covering 2017 through 2022, shows Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) are taking the right steps against would-be criminals. The number of FFL burglaries dropped each year, with the exception of the COVID pandemic year of 2020. In 2017, there were 577 FFL burglaries. In 2018, that figure dropped to 427 and again down to 343 in 2019. And, ATF told NSSF if the months of May and the immediate aftermath of the George Floyd incident in 2020 were exempted from the statistics, it would show a decline over 2019. Last year, the most current year for data, there were only 277 FFL burglaries. For FFL robberies, the high mark of 36 in 2018 has gone down each year, including 2020, to just 21 in 2021.
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Where the data really jumps out is the number of stolen firearms over the stretch of the report. No one – especially an FFL business – wants to see legal-to-own firearms illegally stolen, winding up in the hands of someone who shouldn’t possess them and ultimately used in the commission of a crime or violent act.
In calendar year 2017, ATF data shows there were 7,841 firearms stolen during FFL burglaries. That number dropped by 2,200 the following year (the first year of OSS), dropped further to 4,490 in 2019 and dropped even further last year. In 2021, there were only 2,936 firearms stolen during an FFL burglary. That’s a roughly 65 percent reduction in firearms stolen from FFLs in five years.
Layers of Security
Ensuring firearm inventory remains safe doesn’t just mean extra locks on the doors or shelves to keep guns secured. With the OSS program, ATF, DOJ and firearm retailers work together and focus on five key areas; “Education and Awareness,” “Assessment and Risk Analysis,” “Planning and Strategy,” “Engagement” and “Response.” This thorough multipronged approach to firearm inventory is critical.
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 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the crimes if theft occurs. Offering rewards often helps spur community cooperation and encourages anyone with information to help authorities bring criminals to justice. That communication is also critical in alerting other firearm retailers in the area of crimes so they are aware and on the lookout.
The ATF has a 100 percent response rate to burglaries and robberies of firearm retailers and uses the combined expertise of its special agents and industry operations investigators to apprehend those responsible and recover the stolen firearms.
Real Solutions. Safer Communities.
Operation Secure Store is one of several NSSF Real Solutions. Safer Communities. initiatives. Don’t Lie for the Other Guy™ helps ATF to educate retailers on the warning signs of illegal straw purchases. 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 disqualifying 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.
This important work, including Operation Secure Store, remains critical to the entire gun-owning community. The new ATF data is positive. The hard work continues to keep communities safe.
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“…(OSS) is a pillar partnership with ATF and DOJ to provide brick-and-mortar firearm retailers with educational resources and services to better secure their inventory and reduce robberies and burglaries.”
How soothing to learn how ATF and DOJ maintain a “partnership” for the benefit of the “brick-and-mortar firearm retailers with educational resources.”