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White House Proposes
Yearly Gun Count for Dealers

LEGISLATION: The inventories also would be 
required of importers and firearms manufacturers. 

August 31, 2000 - By JEANNINE AVERSA - The Associated Press 

WASHINGTON - Federally licensed importers, manufacturers and
dealers of guns would have to conduct a minimum of one inventory
each year to identify any missing firearms, under a rule proposed by
the Clinton administration. 

The proposal by the Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms would "help strengthen enforcement of
federal firearms laws and reduce the avenues in which violent
criminals and juveniles acquire illegal firearms," James Johnson,
Treasury undersecretary for enforcement, said in a statement

More than 27,000 lost or stolen firearms were reported by federal
licensees between 1998 and 1999.

Stolen firearms are a "significant source of guns for criminals,"
Johnson said. 

"Inventory discrepancies, recordkeeping errors and employee theft --
problems that often only become apparent when a physical inventory
is conducted -- accounted for almost 40 percent of the reported
incidents," ATF said in the Federal Register, which published the
proposal Monday. 

The proposal is subject to public comment and possible revision
before taking effect. Interested parties must weigh in by Nov. 27. 

Existing law requires licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers
to report any theft or loss of firearms from their inventories to the
ATF or appropriate local authorities within 48 hours after the
discovery is made. 

The proposal would require licensees to do at least one annual
physical inventory of their firearms and reconcile that inventory with
their records. Any missing firearms would have to be reported within
48 hours. 

In addition, the proposal clarifies that when guns are lost in transit or
during shipment, it is the responsibility of the party sending the
firearms to report a stolen or missing gun. 

Existing regulations do not specify whether the sending or receiving
licensee is responsible for making such a report. 

"The lack of clarity ... may result in neither party reporting the theft
or loss," ATF said in its proposal. 

In 1999, there were 1,271 crime guns traced in which the licensee
claimed that it never received the firearm shipped to it and the
firearm had not been reported lost or stolen, ATF said. 

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