What does it solve?
Requiring that lost and stolen guns be reported to law enforcement deters illegal gun trafficking. The reporting of these guns allows the police to respond more quickly to gun thefts and helps them identify tracking patterns.
Gun thefts occur in staggering numbers and often divert guns into an underground market where people with dangerous histories are able to easily obtain firearms. Policymakers should pass laws requiring gun owners to report guns that have been lost or stolen to law enforcement to help prevent illegal gun trafficking.
How many guns are stolen every year?
380,000 guns are stolen annually from private gun owners.
Myth & Fact
How it works
Reporting lost or stolen guns may reduce underground gun sales and illegal gun trafficking.
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). But, with the exception of weapons registered under the National Firearms Act, federal law does not require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.
Laws requiring that lost and stolen guns be reported to law enforcement are associated with significant reductions in gun trafficking. One study found that these laws reduced traced illegal gun movement by 46% compared to states that do not have such laws. Another study found that mandatory-reporting laws were associated with a 30 percent lower risk that guns would be purchased in that state and recovered after a crime in another state. In addition to other policies to help prevent gun theft, including requiring secure gun storage at home and in vehicles and promoting public awareness of the benefits of secure storage, lawmakers should pass laws to affirmatively require gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement for investigation immediately when they go missing.
By the numbers
One study found that lost and stolen reporting laws reduced traced illegal gun movement by 46 percent compared to states that do not have such a law.
The majority of the 23,000 stolen firearms recovered by police between 2010 and 2016 were recovered in connection with crimes, including more than 1,500 violent acts.
The number of guns reported stolen from individuals increased by nearly 60 percent between 2006 and 2016.