The measure, the "SECURE Firearm Storage Act" was introduced last week by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who has long championed gun control proposals of all stripes in his 38 years in Congress. Durbin's bill would authorize the U.S. Attorney General to institute regulations for additional security requirements for licensed gun dealers of all sizes including alarm and security cameras, site hardening, and records storage. FFLs found to be out of compliance would face civil penalties and license suspension or revocation.
Introduced as S. 2908, other facets of the bill would require that gun shops secure their firearm inventory either by fastening them to an anchored steel rod or storing them in a locked safe or gun cabinet. Meanwhile, special emphasis is placed on safeguarding the FFL's all-important paper records, which would have to be preserved "in a secure location" should they be needed for future gun tracing efforts. The move would also add a new section to FFL applications for applicants to describe how they will comply with the enhanced security regs while the Attorney General would have to "ensure that an applicant’s plan will be compliant before approving a license application."
Sponsored by seven Dems in the Senate, a companion House bill, introduced by U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), has a dozen co-sponsors in that chamber. Well-funded national anti-gun groups, including Brady, the Center for American Progress, Everytown, and Giffords, strongly support the legislation.
Firearms industry experts – who back strong but voluntary security guidelines for gun stores to help curb theft and robbery – question the need for government mandates in an industry that is already one of the most heavily regulated in the country. Going further, they wonder if the plan is to raise expenses on America's licensed gun dealers, who already operate in a market with often razor-thin profit margins, to the point that they close their doors.
"Senator Durbin and Congressman Schneider propose to create mandatory federal firearm storage requirements for firearm retailers not so they can improve security in communities but to mandate unaffordable incurred costs that will drive these owners out of business," Mark Oliva, public affairs director for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, told Guns.com Wednesday.
"The reality is that the majority of firearm retailers in the United States are small businesses who are securing their inventory," explained Oliva. "These are proposed mandatory costs for layered security that can be redefined at the will of the U.S. Attorney General without limit and would be unaffordable. This legislation doesn’t speak to any approach to holding the criminals that target these business accountable for their crime."
Oliva contends that Illinois is awash in crime with little political will to lock up criminals, preferring instead to defund police.
"Senator Durbin and Congressman Schneider are more interested in running firearm retailers out of business than tackling the hard work of hold the criminals that target these retailers responsible for their crimes," he said. "A more serious approach would be to support Operation Secure Store, the firearm industry’s partnership with the ATF. This partnership has proven effective at presenting voluntary and cost-affordable security solutions to firearm retailers to deter and prevent firearm thefts and robberies. The ATF’s own data proves this effective approach."
The SECURE Firearm Storage Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, which Durbin chairs.
Banner image: Nic Neufeld