Congressman Joe Morelle introduces legislation to prevent gun shop thefts

Local News

Congressman Joe Morelle, a Democrat, is leading an effort to crack down on gun dealers who fail to secure the guns in their shop.

Between 2012 and 2017 more than 32,000 firearms were stolen from gun shops and 30 percent of those firearms were used in crimes.

“In schools, in churches and on the streets our children are dying. We cannot wait any longer to take action to address gun violence that is plaguing our neighborhoods,” said Morelle.

The congressman’s call to action is the introduction of the Gun Theft Prevention Act. The proposed legislation would require the owners of gun shops like Chinappi’s Firearms & Supplies to take basic security measures to reduce theft.

The store has been burglarized seven times since 2007 and twice in one week last year. It was determined that Chinappi’s did not have adequate security.

“The bill requires guns shops to fulfill minimum security requirements, like locked cabinets, video surveillance, and site hardening. It also requires the ATF to inspect all gun dealers every three years,” said Morelle.

Shuane Williams son Tysean was fatally shot in a home invasion on November 6, 2013. She believes her son would be alive today if gun shop owners implemented security measures that were required.

“I do, I do think so. It’s a lot of things that happen in our community today that lead to gun violence but it can be controlled,” said Williams.

Bur at least one local gun shop owner believes it’s a waste of time.

Gadsden Arms owner Dave Viggiani says, “Dealers are required by law to have an extremely detailed log of all firearms coming in and out of the store. It seems nothing but an attempt to feel like he’s (Morelle) doing something as the majority of the bill’s substance is already in place.”

Monroe County Sherrif Todd Baxter realizes there are gun shop owners who try to comply with federal recommendations. The proposed legislation helps keep those who don’t accountable.

“The ones who are not going to follow the recommendations or not follow the laws, they have been given warnings and have been inspected and refuse to do that. What the congressman is trying to do is give us some teeth in the law,” said Baxter.

According to Baxter, the proposed legislation will make it easier to fine or revoke the license of dealers like Chinappi’s which, after a long process, was eventually closed down.

Between 2012 and 2017 states with physical security requirements had lower annual rates of gun theft. 
Those states are California, Connecticut, Minnesota and New Jersey.

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