Feds, gun industry trade group launch Operation Secure Store

The gun industry’s biggest trade association launched a new initiative this week aimed at curbing firearm thefts from licensed dealers.

Operation Secure Store — a partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — will help federally licensed firearms dealers “make well informed security-related decisions to deter and prevent theft.”

“No one wants to prevent the theft of firearms more than the licensed retailers that sell them,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, NSSF president and chief executive officer. “There is no one-size fits all solution to helping prevent thefts from firearms retailers, which is why Operation Safe Store will provide access to information and training to allow retailers to make the decisions that are right for them.”

Gun store thefts rose across the country in 2016, according to a report from the Center for American Progress. The ATF recorded more than 8,000 guns taken from dealers in burglaries and robberies in 2017 — a 3 percent increase over 2016 and more than double the amount stolen in 2013.

The agency identified the surge in firearms stolen from dealers as a “primary external challenge straining its limited resources” in 2018, according to the CAP report.

“It’s clear from the crime guns we recover every day that firearms stolen from FFL retailers are a serious threat to public safety” said ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon in press release Tuesday. “To mitigate this threat, ATF welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the NSSF to educate and inform FFL retailers on how they can enhance the security of their businesses.”

Another ongoing collaboration between the ATF and NSSF includes a reward-matching program offering thousands to credible tipsters in gun store theft cases.

In a 2015 interview with NSSF, Steven Gerido, special agent in charge of the ATF’s Nashville field division, called the partnership “a tremendous asset.”

“Normally, more than not these are smash and grabs where you have violent individuals or a violent group responsible for more than one or two of these FFL burglaries,” he said. “It’s been a tremendous asset. It’s a tremendous tool in the tool box for us. We are able to bring countless criminals off the streets when we get it up to that $5,000.”

ATF Deputy Chief of Public Affairs Josslyn Aberle told Guns.com in June the agency and law enforcement often solve investigations before paying rewards, which are doled out based on the accuracy of the information provided.

“However, just because ATF offers a reward, does not mean that it has been or will be claimed,” she said. “When NSSF matches our reward amount, it is our hope that citizens view the total reward as enticing enough to want to provide credible tips about a particular FFL burglary or robbery.”

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