Gun Theft Laws

Gun theft constitutes a felony.
••• a gun image by timur1970 from

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the 2008 National Crime Victimization Survey showed that 303,880 victims of violent crimes faced offenders carrying firearms. This represents seven percent of 5.1 million violent crimes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data estimates 68 percent of 16,929 murders in 2007 to have been committed with firearms. Firearms in the wrong hands could result in fatalities, and several laws have been put in place to minimize gun theft.


While state laws differ regarding penalties for gun theft, it is generally considered a serious crime. In many states, stealing a gun constitutes a grand theft, which is a felony regardless of the offender's criminal background or value of the gun. Such a law exists in California, Idaho, Arizona and Ohio, among other states.

Reporting Stolen Guns

Some states require gun owners to immediately file police reports if their firearms are lost or stolen. These laws aim to minimize the practice of buying guns to re-sell to people prohibited from owning guns. At least four U.S. states have these laws, including Michigan, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. Owners who fail to file within the deadlines could face criminal penalties, fines and imprisonment, particularly if the gun is later used in the commission of a serious crime.

Voluntary Reporting

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operates the National Tracing Center (NTC) to help law enforcement agencies solve firearms crimes. Interstate shipments of firearms are not required by law to be reported, but the ATF has standard processes for the shipper, carrier or consignee to report gun thefts. Each year, ATF receives hundreds of gun-theft reports.

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