Rule would require gun dealers to report thefts in transit

Gun dealers could soon be holstered with new theft reporting requirements, federal regulators said Monday.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is looking at new rules that would require gun dealers to report the theft of a firearm that is being shipped to a customer or another gun dealer.

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Gun dealers and individuals who own guns are already required to report missing firearms to ATF and the local authorities, but this rule closes a gap by determining who is responsible to report a theft that happens while the gun is in transit. 

"These gaps in the regulations may result in no one reporting the theft or loss of a firearm stolen or lost in transit," the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

The proposed rules would require whoever is sending the gun to report the theft within 48 hours of discovering it. Once a buyer receives a gun, they would then be responsible for reporting a theft. But if the gun is stolen in transit, the sender maintains the reporting responsibility.

Gun thefts that happen in transit are up about 20 percent over the last 15 years, the ATF reports. 

"Theft or loss of firearms in transit continues to be a problem," the agency wrote. 

When a firearm is stolen after a gun dealer has shipped it to a buyer, it often goes unreported. On average, there are 1,525 guns stolen in transit each year that go unreported, according to ATF. 

The public has 90 days to comment on the proposed rule.