Washington, D.C. — Today, a new report from the Center for American Progress provides state-by-state numbers on the scope of gun thefts in America, revealing a staggering number of stolen guns nationwide and finding that a gun is stolen in the U.S. every two minutes. Contributing to an expansive underground market, these stolen guns pose a significant threat to public safety, are often used in violent crimes, and are virtually untraceable by law enforcement investigations.
The report shows that Illinois ranks 12th among states for highest number of firearms stolen from gun dealers between 2012 to 2016, with nearly 900 firearms stolen during that time. A firearm is stolen from an Illinois gun dealer every two days.
According to FBI data, nearly half a billion dollars worth of guns were stolen from individual gun owners between 2012 and 2015, amounting to an estimated 1.2 million guns. Despite this surge—and coupled with a nearly 50 percent increase in burglaries and a 175 percent increase in robberies of gun stores—only nine states and Washington, D.C., have laws mandating that gun owners report when guns in their possession are stolen or lost, and there is nothing in federal law that requires gun dealers to implement any specific security measures to help protect their dangerous inventory.
In Illinois, a bill has passed the state senate that would create a licensing requirement for gun dealers at the state level. The Gun Dealer Licensing Act (SB 1657) would require additional safety and security measures for licensed dealers, including mandatory criminal background checks for gun store employees and employee training on how to stop straw purchases.
“Thousands of deadly weapons are stolen every year from Federal Firearm Licensees, many of which are later used to commit violent crimes,” said Colleen Daley, Executive Director at the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. “This report provides more proof as to why we need to pass SB 1657 – the Gun Dealer Licensing Act which is pending in the Illinois House of Representatives right now. The measure calls for industry-wide best practices including video surveillance for gun dealers which we know will cut back on the number of illegal guns onto our streets and ultimately save lives.”
Today, Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced legislation to help prevent thefts from gun stores. This bill will require licensed gun dealers to implement certain security measures to ensure that guns are stored securely during nonbusiness hours, and will direct the U.S. attorney general to implement regulations requiring additional security measures for licensed gun dealers.
“Guns are stolen in the United States in astoundingly high numbers, and these guns often head directly into illegal trafficking networks, where they are sold and traded and ultimately used to facilitate violent crimes,” said Chelsea Parsons, vice president of guns and crime policy at CAP. “Gun owners and dealers have a substantial responsibility to secure their firearms and policymakers need to take this epidemic of gun thefts seriously and implement policies that will help prevent future thefts.”
The report offers a number of policy solutions to help reduce gun thefts:
- Enact federal legislation to require licensed gun dealers to implement certain minimum security measures, such as securely storing guns after business hours and installing alarm systems and cameras.
- Eliminate the rider on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) budget that prevents the agency from requiring licensed gun dealers to conduct an annual inventory reconciliation.
- Provide ATF with additional resources to conduct more frequent gun dealer compliance inspections.
- Implement laws or policies that require or incentivize gun owners to store firearms securely.
- Enact federal and state legislation requiring gun owners to promptly report all stolen or lost guns to law enforcement.
Click here to read the report.
- America Under Fire: An Analysis of Gun Violence in the United States and the Link to Weak Gun Laws, by Chelsea Parsons and Eugenio Weigend Vargas
- Interactive Map: Gun Violence Across America, by Chelsea Parsons and Eugenio Weigend Vargas