Lost and Stolen Gun Reporting Policy

Lost and Stolen Gun Reporting Policy

Federal law requires firearm dealers to report firearms that are lost or stolen from their inventory to local authorities and to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). With the exception of firearms registered under the National Firearms Act, there is no federal legal requirement to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.[1]

Right now there is a movement, state by state, to pass laws which require the reporting of all lost or stolen guns. Currently, ten states and the District of Columbia require the reporting of all lost and stolen firearms to law enforcement.

Facts on Lost and Stolen Guns

  • Lost and stolen reporting laws reduced traced illegal gun movement by 46% compared to states that do not have such a law.[2]

  • In 2019, 575 firearms were reported as lost or stolen to the ATF in NC.[3]

  • The majority of 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 were recovered in connection with crimes, including more than 1,500 violent acts.[4]

  • According to a study in Pittsburgh, more than 30% of the guns that ended up at crime scenes were stolen; and for another 44%, whether the gun was stolen was unclear or undetermined.[5]

  • Crime guns originating in states with a lost-or-stolen reporting law were found to be 30% less likely to end up in another state than guns that came from states without such laws.[6]

States with Lost and Stolen Gun Reporting Policies7

  • Immediate Reporting Required
    • Massachusetts
    • Ohio
    • DC
  • 24 Hour Reporting Required
    • Hawaii
    • New York
    • Rhode Island
  • 48 Hour Reporting Required
    • Virginia
  • 36 Hour Reporting Required
    • New Jersey
  • 72 Hour Reporting Required
    • Connecticut
    • Illinois
    • Maryland
  • 5 Day Reporting Required
    • Michigan
    • California
  • 7 Day Reporting Required
    • Delaware
  • Liability for Stolen Firearms
    • In Washington if the gun owner stores their weapon in an unsafe manner, then they are liable for community endangerment if the gun is stolen and discharged

[1] Everytown for Gun Safety. Stolen Guns Pose a Tremendous Risk to Public Safety. (2019). https://everytownresearch.org/report/stolen-guns-pose-a-tremendous-risk-to-public-safety/

[2] Kahane, L. Understanding the Interstate Export of Crime Guns: A Gravity Model Approach. (2013). https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1465-7287.2012.00324.x

[3] “Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” Data & Statistics | Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, accessed January 26, 2021, https://www.atf.gov/file/142186/download

[4] Freskos B. Missing pieces: Gun theft from legal gun owners is on the rise, quietly fueling violent crime. (2017). https://bit.ly/2izST1h.

[5] Fabio A, Duell J, Creppage K, O’Donnell K, Laporte R. Gaps continue in firearm surveillance: Evidence from a large U.S. City Bureau of Police. Social Medicine. (2016).

[6] Daniel W. Webster, Jon S. Vernick, Emma E. McGinty, and Ted Alcorn. Preventing the Diversion of Guns to Criminals Through Effective Firearm Sales Laws. (2013). https://jhu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/preventing-the-diversion-of-guns-to-criminals-through-effective-f-3

[7] Giffords Law Center. Reporting Lost & Stolen Guns. https://giffords.org/lawcenter/gun-laws/policy-areas/owner-responsibilities/reporting-lost-stolen-guns/#footnote_8_5611