CONGRESSMAN JOE MORELLE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO KEEP GUNS OUT OF THE HANDS OF DANGEROUS CRIMINALS

May 13, 2019
Press Release

(Rochester, NY) – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle introduced comprehensive legislation to address the growing instances of gun thefts that allow legal firearms to flow into the black market and the hands of dangerous criminals.

“Across America, we are facing an epidemic of gun violence,” said Rep. Morelle. “Over 30% of guns identified in a crime have been stolen – yet licensed gun dealers are not required to take even the most basic precautions to protect these dangerous weapons from falling into the wrong hands.”

“In my district, a single gun store has been burglarized seven times since 2007 alone – and last year, they were burglarized twice in one week,” continued Morelle. “This is negligent, it is dangerous, and we must do everything in our power to prevent it from continuing. That’s why I’m so proud to introduce this legislation to strengthen regulations for gun shops and better protect our streets from the devastation of gun violence.”

“Too many gun sellers are failing to take common-sense precautions to keep thieves from stealing their potentially deadly merchandise,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud Representative Morelle for introducing legislation to ensure that gun dealers fulfill their most basic responsibility: keeping guns out of criminal hands.”

In Monroe County, Chinappi’s Firearms and Supplies gun shop was burglarized seven times since 2007. In 2017, more than 575 gun shops were robbed nationwide, releasing thousands of guns onto the streets that were later traced to instances of violent crime. Despite this, federally licensed gun dealers are not required to take even the most basic precautions to protect their stock. Furthermore, these gun shops are rarely inspected, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) on pace to inspect each gun shop only once every 14 years.

The Gun Theft Prevention Act would require gun shops to fulfill minimum security requirements, like locked cabinets, video surveillance, and site hardening.

This legislation would also require ATF to inspect all gun dealers every three years, as well as perform annual inspections of “high risk” dealers that have a history of firearms they have sold or lost traced to crime.

Specifically, the Gun Theft Prevention Act would:

  • Require employees that have access to firearms to pass the same background check as a gun buyer;
  • Allow ATF to require gun shop owners to keep an inventory of the firearms in their stock and conduct an annual inventory reconciliation to see if any guns are missing;
  • Create strong enforcement mechanisms, including license suspension or revocation, for dealers that repeatedly fail to meet minimum security requirements;
  • Authorize an additional 650 ATF personnel dedicated to conducting dealer inspections and enforcement;
  • Require individual gun owners to report lost and stolen firearms to local police and the ATF.

“Responsible dealers of firearms understand their duty to secure their inventories against outside threats. We need to support those doing it correctly. This legislation offers practical requirements in furthering the safekeeping of firearm inventories for dealers unwilling to fulfill their responsibilities,” said Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter.  “In Monroe County, for example, repeated burglaries at Chinappi’s Gun Shop, located in Parma, NY, occurred for more than a decade - putting the community at tremendous risk.  After multiple attempts to work with the owner to improve security for his business and properly secure the store, MCSO, in partnership with the courts, took an unprecedented step and temporarily closed the gun shop.  The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ultimately revoked the store’s FLL status resulting in the closing of the business. We must work with gun shop owners in taking every precaution to ensure their stock is locked and secured, and arm the ATF with the necessary resources, personnel and tools to inspect federally licensed gun shops more regularly and take appropriate action when violations occur.”

“The ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition has three pillars, to Educate the community on the impacts of gun violence; to Advocate for common sense solutions at all levels of government, and to Eradicate gun violence in our community,” said City Council Vice President Willie J. Lightfoot who also serves as Chair of the ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition. “Congressman Joe Morelle is part of our team to eradicate gun violence, and the Congressman has crafted smart and impactful legislation with the Gun Theft Prevention Act. This legislation will reduce the number of illegal guns on our streets and will not impact the rights of responsible legal gun owners. This is the type of solution we need to see from Washington.”

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