Study: California gun thefts from retailers jumped 174 percent in 2016

Gun store thefts in California more than doubled last year, according to a study released Tuesday.

The Center for American Progress said federally licensed dealers lost 690 guns to theft in 2016, a 174 percent increase over the year before and quadruple the number of firearms stolen in 2013 and 2014.

“Every two minutes, a gun is stolen in America,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president of Guns and Crime Policy at the Center for American Progress, in a press release Tuesday. “These stolen guns feed directly into illegal gun trafficking networks and are destined for use in violent crimes, so gun dealers have a substantial obligation to secure their dangerous inventory and prevent against theft.”

California law mandates dealers report lost or stolen guns and ammunition within 48 hours. Retailers must also follow strict security regulations, including storing inventory in a secure facility or locked safe when closed for business.

Cities and counties can impose stricter regulations above and beyond state law, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Despite this, gun thefts from licensed dealers in California ranked fourth in the nation in 2016, just behind Texas, Georgia and Florida.

California gun owners fared worse, losing 132,000 firearms worth over $59.4 million between 2012 and 2015, according to the study. The Golden State came second only to Texas.

“The number of stolen guns in the United States is staggering,” the study says. “Whether taken from gun stores or from individual gun owners, a firearm is stolen every 2 minutes. These stolen guns are often diverted directly into illegal trafficking networks and end up being used in the commission of violent crimes.”

The center recommends state and federal officials enact safe storage laws with tougher penalties for private owners, while challenging the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to regulate security protocols and inventory compliance measures for gun dealers nationwide — so long as Congress gets out of their way.

“Gun owners and gun dealers therefore have a compelling responsibility to take measures to help ensure that all guns in their possession are not vulnerable to theft,” the study concludes. “Implementing the policy recommendations in this report would be a smart and commonsense step forward in helping to reduce gun thefts and protect community safety.”