Morelle introduces legislation to reduce gun theft, hold gun dealers accountable

Posted 17 March 2023 at 3:07 pm

Press Release, Congressman Joe Morelle

ROCHESTER – Today, Congressman Joe Morelle announced he has introduced legislation to crack down on gun trafficking and keep illegal weapons off our streets.

The State Firearms Dealer Licensing Enhancement Act enhances state oversight capabilities of gun dealers and incentivizes states to implement strong gun dealer licensing regulations to reduce gun theft and, in turn, reduce gun violence. This legislation is sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz (D, HI) in the Senate.

“At a time when our community is perpetually grieving the loss of innocent lives to gun violence, we must take decisive action to get illegal guns off our streets and keep families safe,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “I am proud to introduce this common-sense legislation, which is the culmination of continued discussions with law enforcement, government partners, and community stakeholders. It will help reduce gun theft and gun trafficking, reduce crime and, most importantly, reduce the senseless violence plaguing our neighborhoods. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this critical legislation, and I look forward to passing it into law.”

In 2021, more than 1,978 federal firearm licensees across the country reported lost or stolen firearms, to the tune of 10,325 firearms in total. Many of these firearms are then making their way onto neighborhood streets and are used to commit violent crimes—in fact, over 30% of guns identified in a crime have been stolen. The State Firearms Dealer Licensing Enhancement Act takes steps to prevent these weapons from being stolen in the first place by enhancing state gun dealer licensing and oversight requirements.

Specifically, the State Firearms Dealer Licensing Enhancement Act would establish a grant program for states to develop or improve firearm dealer licensing programs. These funds would allow states to put additional resources towards conducting gun dealer inspections, as well as invest in new technologies and systems that will optimize existing inspection and licensing regimes.

  • To be eligible for the grants under this bill, states must have a licensing regime in place that meets the following requirements:
  • Federal firearm licensees must be licensed to engage in the business of selling firearms, and their licenses must be renewed at least every three years;
  • Federal firearm licensees must submit to inspections;
  • If an federal firearm licensee is found to be in noncompliance, the state must have the ability to suspend or revoke the license and impose civil penalties or criminal charges on the dealer.

Congressman Morelle continues to support additional actions to reduce gun violence, including: banning assault weapons, enacting universal background checks on all gun sales, limiting high-capacity magazines, strengthening security requirements for gun shops.

Kris Brown, President of Brady: United Against Gun Violence, said, “Each year, hundreds of thousands of firearms are sold in the illegal marketplace, flooding communities and devastating families. To combat the increasing amount of illegal guns on our streets and reduce gun violence, states need resources to improve gun industry oversight, and ensure all firearms are sold legally and responsibly in order to hold members of the gun industry accountable when they engage in risky behavior that contributes to gun violence. Improving and strengthening state oversight is a proven way to decrease gun trafficking and Brady is grateful to Rep. Morelle and Sen. Schatz for their steadfast leadership on this issue.”