By a Biometrica staffer
Late last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) released its mid-year data for federal firearms licensee (FFL) burglaries and thefts. According to the ATF, there has been a “marked” drop in the number of FFL burglaries and robberies reported, with around 111 in January–June 2021, as compared to the 284 seen over the same period last year. Similarly, the number of guns stolen during such incidents also fell to an estimated 959 from the 3,703 stolen in the first half of 2020.
This represents a downward trend of 61% in the number of burglary incidents so far in 2021, and a whopping 74% in the number of firearms stolen. The number of burglaries and stolen firearms reported in 2020 compared to 2019 skyrocketed by 99% each. As of financial year 2020, the ATF recorded 130,525 active FFLs, across categories that include dealers, pawnbrokers, collectors, ammunition and firearms manufacturers, and importers.
Due to the severity of the problem associated with stolen guns, the ATF takes such crimes very seriously, with its special agents working alongside industry operations investigators to recover the stolen guns and arrest the robbers. This process includes analyzing ballistics and social media for clues.
Per federal law, FFL are required to report each missing, lost, or stolen gun to the ATF and to the relevant local law enforcement body within 48 hours of discovering the loss or theft. The ATF is unable to help private citizens if their guns are stolen, as there is no national registration system for privately owned firearms that they can rely on.
Illegal and stolen gun trafficking across state and country lines is one of the biggest challenges law enforcement faces in combating violent crimes. Guns stolen from FFLs — legitimate, federally licensed gun stores — often end up on the street, per the ATF, where they can become involved in violent criminal activity that seriously endangers the wellbeing of the public at large.
Last week, the Mexican government sued several big-name American gun manufacturers, alleging that the companies have been complicit in the smuggling of guns into Mexico, which has led to a spike in violent and bloody crimes there. In February this year, thieves in Franklin, Tennessee made off with over 40 guns from a gun shop, prompting the ATF to post a reward of $2,500 to solicit information and help recover the guns.