Local News

Feds Propose Yearly Gun Inventory

Posted August 29, 2000

— Federally licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers of guns would have to conduct at least one inventory each year to identify any missing firearms, under a rule proposed by the Clinton administration.

The proposal by the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms would ``help strengthen enforcement of federal firearms laws and reduce the avenues in which violent criminals and juveniles acquire illegal firearms,'' James Johnson, Treasury undersecretary for enforcement, said in a statement Wednesday.

More than 27,000 lost or stolen firearms were reported by federal licensees between 1998 and 1999. Stolen firearms are a ``significant source of guns for criminals,'' Johnson said.

``Inventory discrepancies, recordkeeping errors and employee theft (problems which often only become apparent when a physical inventory is conducted) accounted for almost 40 percent of the reported incidents,'' ATF said in the Federal Register, which published the proposal Monday.

The proposal is subject to public comment and possible revision before taking effect. Interested parties must weigh in by Nov. 27.

Existing law requires licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers to report any theft or loss of firearms from their inventories to the ATF or appropriate local authorities within 48 hours after it is discovered.

The proposal would require licensees to do at least one annual physical inventory of their firearms and reconcile that inventory with their records. Any missing firearms would have to be reported within 48 hours.

In addition, the proposal clarifies that when guns are lost in transit or during shipment, it is the responsibility of the party sending the firearms to report a stolen or missing gun. Existing regulations do not specify whether the sending or receiving licensee is responsible for making such a report.

``The lack of clarity ... may result in neither party reporting the theft or loss,'' ATF said in its proposal.

In 1999, there were 1,271 crime guns traced in which the licensee claimed that it never received the firearm shipped to it and the firearm had not been reported lost or stolen, ATF said.


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