The ATF has been warning FFLs across the country to “be vigilant” in these turbulent times so as to prevent the theft of two important items: guns, and their federally-mandated records.
Not good options.
With news that a Philadelphia gun shop owner shot and killed one burglar and wounded at least one other (three apparently escaped) as they attempted to rob his store, it seems the ATF’s general warning to all FFLs wasn’t uncalled for.
They are not, however, the only warnings that have quietly been sounded.
Additional warnings have been delivered – some via telephone calls- to firearm dealers located near big cities.
Most of us forget that driving an hour or less outside Chicago, Detroit, New York City, the District of Columbia or Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, and Miami if you think I’m picking on the northeast, will put you in small rural communities.
Communities where gun shops might not have the same level of security or vigilance required in more urban areas. For criminals intent on stepping up the level of violence, those present targets of opportunity.
The first report I received of these enhanced warnings came from a Class 3 FFL in Texas. On Tuesday, I received a second report from a high-end facility not far from Chicago. A facility where the owners believe their security was already being “checked out” by suspicious-looking characters.
This isn’t fear-mongering, despite the fact some of you are already working on your fiery responses to what you’ll consider pot-stirring. Several federal agencies are warning local police departments they have “credible intelligence” on plans to head to the urban areas to procure weapons that will then be turned against law enforcement.
Those aren’t threats of “non violent protest” those threats are plans for a revolution.
In response, smaller communities from Washington State to Texas and Florida are amping up their community watch efforts. Some, like Snonomish, Washington, went further, taking up arms and manning the town’s Main Street to guard local businesses from vandals.
All this uncertainty is also fueling another run on guns and ammunition. Local news outlets across the country are reporting gun shops with 2-3 hour waits for admittance due to social distancing and capacity guidelines.
And it’s not just those areas surrounding big cities. It’s happening across the country. And it’s driving yet another shortage of popular personal defense guns and ammunition.
It’s a time for increased vigilance, but it’s also a time for paying attention to what you’re doing.
Every gun owner should always be aware of the responsibility to maintain control over your firearm. Not just when you’re wearing, carrying or practicing with it.
If it’s known you have firearms, you have the responsibility to keep them under close control. Wearing them counts, but keeping them in the nightstand (unless you’re sleeping in the adjacent bed) is an invitation to have to explain to the police why your gun was either recovered at a crime scene or used to harm your own family.
Guns are tools. They’re also dangerous. We must always remember that.
Right now, we are getting a second-wave of first-time gun owners.
COVID-19 opened their eyes to the inability of government to protect them. The “peaceful protests” that have cause bonfires visible from the international space station has scared them into acting on their newfound awareness.
Any of us who own guns have a responsibility to work with these newcomers. Our goal should be helping them along in the responsibility and enjoyment process. Our help should emphasize safe operation and responsible ownership.
Owning a gun doesn’t protect you. Owning a gun and understanding the responsibilities that go with it protects everyone.
Owning a gun, being able to operate it correctly and the ability to secure it at all times- can offer added confidence in tumultuous times.
Not knowing either could be more dangerous than relying on a baseball bat for protection.
If you’re not confident offering advice, you can point them toward several online resources, including the NSSF and other shooting groups.
Be smart. Be safe. Be sensible. Three rules we can all live with.