The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Rock County Sheriff’s Office hosted a seminar for federal firearms licensees Thursday in response to the recent gun store burglaries in southern Wisconsin.
About 40 people—licensees and their employees—showed up for the training at the Rock County Courthouse in Janesville.
The licensees’ questions included the methods burglars use and how to detect and prevent straw sales, said ATF spokeswoman Ashlee Sherrill.
“Many FFLs shared tips on security enhancements/procedures they’ve had good experience with, as well as potential insurance savings through additional security,” she said.
Licensees received information on methods for securing their inventories, including alarm systems and other physical security measures, as well as best practices in record keeping to ensure a good record of inventory.
“We want licensees to be aware that there are low-cost solutions that can be implemented. Many burglaries can be prevented with just a few safeguards in place,” said Director of Industry Operations Hans Hummel of the ATF’s St. Paul Field Division, as quoted in the news release.
Not all the attendees run gun shops. Some may sell a small number of firearms and want to be sure they are following regulations, and some might want the privilege of owning automatic or other exotic weapons, which is allowed with these licenses, Sherill said.
Sherill said getting a federal firearms license requires an extensive background check.
The ATF and local authorities are jointly investigating two of the burglaries, one in Oregon and one in the town of Janesville, Sherill said.
The ATF is not investigating the burglary at CTR Firearms in Janesville because no guns were taken in that break-in, Sherill said.
Federal law does not require these licensees to secure their firearms, but the ATF recommends a variety of measures to reduce gun store burglaries, the bureau said in a news release.
Stolen firearms often turn up at crimes scenes, and the licensees are the first line of defense against criminals having firearms, the release states.
Janesville and Beloit police sent representatives to the seminar to answer questions.
Sherill could not say why gun shops suddenly became the targets of burglars here, but she said gun-shop burglaries have been reported elsewhere, and in some cases, the suspicion is that they are gang related.
“I’m not sure if that’s the same here, and it’s too early to tell,” Sherill said.
“I think in this investigation, until we have somebody pegged, we really don’t want to show our cards.”