New measure would strengthen penalties for firearms thefts

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has voiced their support for a bill that would strengthen penalties for those who steal guns from federal firearms licensees.

The proposal, the Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act of 2017, was introduced last week by Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma and calls for mandatory minimum sentences to be imposed on thieves who nab guns from FFLs.

The NSSF praised the bill in a Friday statement, highlighting the need for enhanced penalties and the dangers such thefts pose to the greater community.

“Thefts from federally licensed firearms retailers represent particularly brazen offenses that hold potential for additional crime when stolen guns are sold on the street,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “The Federal Firearms Licensee Protection Act is a significant reinforcement of our federal laws to help deter both first-time and repeat violators and to ensure those convicted of these crimes serve serious time. We thank Congressman Russell for his leadership to help make America safer.”

If passed and signed into law, the measure would implement mandatory minimum sentences of no less than three years for burglary and five years for robbery of a firearms retailer, shooting clubs, ranges that rent firearms, and licensed collectors.

“This legislation would send a strong message to criminals to think twice before attempting to burglarize or rob FFLs,” Russell said in a news release. “The theft of firearms is a serious threat to public safety. Deterrence of firearm theft will prevent firearms from falling into criminal hands.”

According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, some 7,758 guns were stolen from FFLs in 2016. Over the past five years, such robberies have increased by 175 percent and burglaries by 48 percent.

The NSSF has partnered with the ATF to help reduce thefts and identify the criminals responsible, offering security education programs to FFLs, assisting in store audits, and matching ATF rewards for information that leads to the arrest of gun thieves.