The firearm industry is leveraging unique partnerships to help firearm retailers become part of the safety solutions in their communities.
Through Real Solutions® the firearm industry trade association partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), for a campaign called Operation Secure Store® (OSS). The goal is to deter and reduce the instances of theft and burglary of firearms from retailers. These partnerships have had a positive impact on reducing criminal misuse of firearms. After all, local firearm retailers live and work in the same communities and want those neighborhoods to be free of crime too.
Resources for Safer Communities
More than 21 million customers since last January visited a firearm retail store and lawfully purchased a firearm. That figure includes more than 8.4 million buyers who did so for the first time. Firearm retailers work with NSSF on several safety initiatives, but OSS is one that’s critical to business vitality and community safety at the same time.
Operation Secure Store works with firearm retailers to enhance their operational security and identify potential risks to their businesses. The program focuses on five key areas:
- Education and Awareness, so retailers understand potential security threats and how to address them;
- Assessment and Risk Analysis, provided to identify vulnerabilities and security weaknesses;
- Planning and Strategy, to assist retailers to develop an action plan to address any potential issues;
- Engagement, encouraging retailers to work with their communities and customers to build trust; and,
- Response, providing retailers timely response services in the event of any criminal activity.
By focusing on these key areas, firearm retailers can ensure their store and inventory are available and open the next business day when customers begin lining up.
In the event of a smash-and-grab burglary, the first priority is recovering the stolen firearms and bringing the criminals to justice. As part of Operation Secure Store, the NSSF matches ATF reward offers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of criminals that steal guns from retailers.
“ATF works closely with members of the firearms industry to curb the criminal acquisition and misuse of firearms,” said ATF Acting Special Agent Toby Taylor. “ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence will leverage investigative resources across state lines combined with community partnerships to recover the stolen firearms.”
Laws are often proposed under the guise of “gun safety,” but are really gun control. This is especially the case when local governments mandate onerous storage regulations on gun retailers that can make it impossible for small business owners to follow because of cost. The Littleton, Colo., city council passed an ordinance to force gun retailers to place their inventory in a “locked safe, gun cabinet or secured safe room after business hours.” This one-size-fits-all policy is unworkable for many retailers and will likely force businesses to shut down. It’s gun rights elimination by another means.
Operation Secure Store initiatives and the efforts of gun retailers using available NSSF and the ATF resources have helped to reduce crime and break-ins at gun stores. According to data available for 2017 through 2019, the number of firearm retail burglaries decreased year-over-year, from 577 down to 343. The number of firearms stolen by criminals has trended down over the same period, from 7,841 in 2017 down to 4,490 in 2019.
Criminals are paying for their crimes too. In similar available data, the number of criminals arrested for firearm retailer burglaries, according to ATF data, jumped from 133 in 2016 to 280 during 2017. Those arrested for state-level firearm burglaries matched the trend, rising from 114 to 137 over the same period.
The firearm industry continues to believe Real Solutions lead to safe communities and will continue partnering with the ATF and community retailers to ensure Americans can safely exercise their Second Amendment rights and gun stores are safe and secure to provide the outlet to do so.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.