The Department of Justice has announced a new rule about how licensed sellers must store firearms, set to take effect on Feb. 3.
The new rule implements the existing Gun Control Act requirement that imposes strict licensing and regulation on the firearms industry, and states that federal firearms licensees (FFLs) that sell firearms to the general public must certify that they have secure gun storage or safety devices available.
The act defines secure gun storage or a safety device as “a device that, when installed on a firearm, is designed to prevent the firearm from being operated without first deactivating the device,” “a device incorporated into the design of the firearm that is designed to prevent the operation of the firearm by anyone not having access to the device,” and “a safe, gun safe, gun case, lock box, or other device that is designed to be or can be used to store a firearm and that is designed to be unlocked only by means of a key, a combination, or other similar means.”
“Not all devices are compatible with varying types of firearms. Therefore, integral to the new rule is the requirement that FFLs have available secure gun storage options that are compatible with the firearms they are selling,” the DOJ said.
In addition, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published a best practices guide it says is designed to assist FFLs in “complying with all required firearm laws and regulations that are designed to ensure public safety and the traceability of firearms” and to encourage them to “provide customers with ATF publications to help firearms owners better understand their legal obligations,” along with the practical steps they can take to ensure firearms are kept away from prohibited persons and ensure the safe storage of firearms.
According to a November Gallup poll, support for stricter gun control across the United States fell by 15 percentage points to 52 percent in the past five years. Meanwhile, 35 percent of American adults believed laws covering the sale of firearms should be kept as they are currently, while 11 percent favored less strict laws.
A decline in support for stricter gun laws last year came amid a partisan divide on the issue, with 91 percent of Democrats and only 24 percent of Republicans supporting stricter laws.
The DOJ’s enhanced storage rule comes shortly after it was reported that the alleged shooter at Oxford High School in Michigan in November 2021 was said to have acquired the gun he used from an unlocked drawer.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, opened fire at the high school in Oxford on Nov. 30. The shooting left four students dead and seven people wounded.
Prosecutors allege his parents violated the law by purchasing the gun used in the shooting for their son and keeping it in a drawer that was unlocked.
“Today’s announcements build on the department’s efforts to reduce the risk of firearms falling into the wrong hands,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland of the DOJ’s announcement. “Gun safety is a Department of Justice priority, and we will continue to take all appropriate steps to help reduce the number of people killed and injured by the misuse of firearms.”