Continued from page 1

What this proposed rule will do is add burden and cost on the dealers who ship the guns, leading to fewer jobs and higher prices on the consumers who want to purchase the firearms, he said.

“This rule adds a tremendous cost for industry on the shipping [federal firearm license] to put in place mechanisms to track every single shipment to make sure it arrives complete and unharmed,” Mr. Keane said. “The ATF has never told us this was a major problem — if it was then why did it take them 14 years to propagate the rule? This burden shouldn’t be on the shipping FFL — it will only add to their costs.”

If one compares the number of guns stolen to the number sold annually, the issue seems almost moot, Mr. Keane said.

Last year, the FBI conducted more than 21 million background checks — the most ever — which are often used as a signal to the industry on how many guns are sold. If only 1,500 were stolen during transit — out of the millions sold — then the industry is already doing a good job self-reporting and voluntarily working with ATF agents, Mr. Keane argued.

Most commonly, when guns are stolen during shipment, it is done by the employees of third-party vendors, not sophisticated gun traffickers or cartels, he said.

Federal regulations already require firearm dealers to report guns lost in their inventories within 48 hours after discovery, but there’s no reporting regulations on guns lost in transit. The new rule takes aim at correcting that omission, requiring shippers to report to local law-enforcement within two days after losing a shipment.

ATF spokeswoman Dannette Seward said in all likelihood the 1,500 lost gun figure is on the low end of the spectrum as it represents only guns used in crimes that were recovered and traced by local authorities — the total number of guns lost and stolen in transit but not reported is likely much higher, she said in an email statement.

The proposed rule is not designed to place more regulatory burden dealers, but rather to clarify that shippers are the responsible party when a firearm is lost in transit, Ms. Seward said.

“The proposed regulation makes clear who must report, but does not add any additional reporting requirements,” Ms. Seward said. “The proposed regulation does not require universal tracking by shippers.

“The requirement to report kicks in only when the shipper becomes aware that the receiver did not receive the firearm, which could occur in a number of ways, including when the receiver notifies the shipper that the firearm never arrived, the common carrier advises its clients of a theft or loss, or through other means,” she added.

The public has 30 days to comment on the rule.