The pro-gun community has seen its fair share of backdoor gun-ban schemes. Frivolous lawsuits, financial regulation, and “smart gun” safety requirements have all been used by anti-gun advocates in an attempt eliminate guns by destroying the firearms industry.
Last week, freshman Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle announced a different kind of gun ban. Dubbed the Gun Theft Prevention Act, the proposed legislation would mandate strict security requirements on gun shops, impose stiff penalties for non-compliance, and hold shops accountable for crimes committed with stolen firearms.
If implemented, the law would almost certainly force thousands of gun shops around the country to shutter their doors.
At a press conference announcing the legislation, Morell framed his bill as a “common sense” way to stop the “mass shootings” that have become “an article of living in the United States.”
“Licensed gun dealers are not required to take the most basic step to ensure these dangerous weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Morelle said. “It’s negligent and it’s dangerous.”
As justification, the congressman alluded to a gun shop that had been broken into seven times since 2007 and claimed that, in 2017, “more than 575 gun shops were robbed nationwide.” His stats appear to originate from anti-gun Bloomberg-funded outlet The Trace, which conducted an investigation into gun shop theft in partnership with The New Yorker.
Under the bill, all gun shops would be required to install “basic safety precautions,” including locked cabinets and video surveillance devices. Shops would either be forced to retrofit their displays with secured cases or move firearms from display racks to cabinets or safes every night.
To enforce the new requirements, Morelle’s bill calls for hiring 650 additional ATF agents to perform mandatory audits of all firearms dealers every three years. Shops found not abiding by the new requirements would face suspension or revocation of their licenses.
Here’s the worst of it: the bill would also repeal a portion of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by removing civil protections for gun shop owners who “allow” guns to be stolen that are subsequently used in violent crimes. In other words, if a criminal steals firearms from a shop the ATF deems did not have sufficient security measures, the shop owner can be sued if someone uses any of those firearms in a violent crime at any future point.
With that potential liability, insurance companies will be far less likely to offer policies that local gun shops can afford—if they offer any policies at all.
But the bill doesn’t stop with shop owners. It also includes a long-sought gun control provision that would require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms or face criminal charges. In addition, it mandates that all gun shop employees be able to pass a NICS background check.
The bill has been introduced but has yet to be officially filed. It stands a good chance of passing the Democrat-controlled House but will almost certainly die in the Republican-controlled Senate.