On Your Side Investigators: Gun shop security not required by law

On Your Side Investigators: Gun shop security not required by law

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - After a string of gun shop break ins around the Richmond area, NBC12 is asking: can gun shop owners do more to keep their merchandise safe?

Many times, these stolen weapons end up in the hands of violent criminals. Many business owners take huge steps to enhance security, but it's not mandated by law.

NBC12 caught up with Kevin Penrose, who owns American Family Pawn in Powhatan, months after his shop was targeted by thieves. He's going over the lessons he's learned.

Penrose has enhanced his security system. Some things you will notice right away.

"We've added bars on the windows, shatter proof glass," said Penrose.

But perhaps the biggest change is what he does with the weapons.

"After we close, all the guns right here in the case are put away in the safe, then all our long guns right here, we have a cable that we feed through trigger guards," he said.

Perhaps the most time consuming is putting away the guns in the display cases.

"These guns we put in the original gun cases and put those in the gun safe room," he said.

All changes were put in place just after this break in. But not every gun shop follows the same procedure, because it's not mandated by federal, state or local law.

The ATF does provide recommendations for business owners to prevent theft. It includes: securing the building, having an alarm system and even 'removing all firearms from display cases and racks' and placing it in a vault. But none of it is required.

For groups like the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, not having these mandates is disturbing.

"Policy makers have been scared, they've been scared of the public interest groups that are run by gun manufacturers," said Lindsay Nichols, senior attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. "There needs to be laws on the books so that is a matter of common business practice that nobody questions."

According to the ATF, in 2015, 294 gun were reported lost or stolen from Federal Firearms Licensees. Law enforcement sources say the number of firearms being stolen has increased, while the amount of gun store thefts remains constant.

However, in just the last few weeks, the Richmond area has seen four gun shop break-ins. Hopkins Gun and Tackle in Hanover was hit twice. The ATF says these suspects took about 30 weapons. There is now a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

For Penrose, he disagrees with more mandates on gun shop owners.

"When you start mandating a gun shop owner that they have to do this and that, it takes away a lot of our freedoms," he said. "We should be responsible."

Just last month, the National Shooting Sports Foundation announced a store security consultation program. Experts will come in to evaluate a store's security, how inventory is tracked and the business' risk for loss.

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