The Center for American Progress recently issued a state-by-state analysis of guns stolen in America. The report begins by tugging at our heartstrings, recounting the horrible assassination of NYC Police Department Officer Miosotis Familia, who was on duty when her killer spotted her sitting in her marked command truck. The gun the murderer used was stolen many years before. The report then goes on to compare the states with the highest number of firearms stolen to the states with the fewest. It comes as no surprise that the states with the most stringent gun laws—read as less freedom—have the lowest rate of gun theft.
CAP makes this compelling statement: “According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), during the four-year period from 2012 to 2015, nearly half a billion dollars worth of guns were stolen from individuals nationwide, amounting to an estimated 1.2 million guns. Twenty-two thousand guns were stolen from gun stores during this same period. A gun is stolen in the U.S. every two minutes.”
Yet that’s like saying that jewelry shops are more prone to jewel theft …The report goes on to detail the incidences of gun theft by victim type, individual gun owners versus gun stores. Using FBI data, which is good, they draw the inference that people who own numerous guns, those who carry guns outside the home and those who do not “employ safe gun practices” in their homes are more prone to theft. Yet that’s like saying that jewelry shops are more prone to jewel theft: Criminals are going to focus their activities on target-rich environments.
The Center for American Progress hopes to lower crime by making more rules that will only impact lawful gun owners, despite the fact that gun theft is already quite illegal. While the data is good, the organization’s conclusions are flawed. They first propose to “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.” In truth, I’ve never been to a gun store that hasn’t had every one of these minimum security measures.
CAP’s second must-have provision exemplifies the progressive canard of using unlimited government spending to “fix problems” without enacting measurement tools to gauge efficiency: “Eliminate the rider on ATF’s budget that prevents the agency from requiring licensed gun dealers to conduct an annual inventory reconciliation.” Not only would this totally reorient the agency towards monitoring law-abiding citizens, but an annual inventory reconciliation overseen by the government would be a nearly impossible task for ATF to execute well. The federal government couldn’t prevent our own border agents from being killed by weapons originally owned by said government. How exactly would this spendthrift’s boondoggle work? Inventory practices are best left in the private sector, where accountability is a built-in stopgap.
The third idea is a rehash of the second: “Provide ATF with additional resources to conduct more frequent gun dealer compliance inspections.” In other words, let’s infuse the ATF with more money with which to harass gun dealers, instead of simply enforcing current law on felony possessors. How about we instead arrest those who steal guns, unlawfully possess them and use them to commit crimes? Enforcement is a deterrent and puts the responsibility on the criminal—where it belongs.
Since CAP’s recommendations to reduce gun theft center on increased spending and more rule-making and regulations impacting lawful gun owners, they are simply a waste of time.Next up is a pivot to putting enforcement efforts on law-abiding citizens: “Implement laws or policies that require or incentivize gun owners to store firearms securely.” Whenever you hear the progressive catchphrase “secure storage,” understand they mean to neutralize your ability to actually use your gun for self-defense. And it still won’t stop industrious thieves from getting what they want.
The last suggestion is an open attempt to criminalize the victims of gun theft: “Enact federal and state legislation requiring gun owners to promptly report all stolen or lost guns to law enforcement.” Since CAP’s recommendations to reduce gun theft center on increased spending and more rule-making and regulations impacting lawful gun owners, they are simply a waste of time.
Worthy of note: Nowhere in CAP’s exhaustive report on guns stolen in the United States is a single mention of the half a million times per year that firearms are used to protect the innocent from violent assailants. Violent criminals would love to see the considerable might of the ATF redirected to policing gun owners and dealers. Instead of giving in to the desires of criminals, the Center for American Progress should support law enforcement actions against straw purchasers, felony possessors and thieves.
Stacy Washington is a decorated Air Force veteran, Emmy-nominated TV personality and host of nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right,” based in St. Louis. She loves God and guns, and is a member of the NRA, obviously.