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Firearms Range Security

By John Bocker, NSSF Security Consultant Team Member

According to ATF’s most recent FFL Theft/Loss Reports, in 2016 there were 558 reported burglaries at FFLs and 7,488 firearms were reported stolen. As that 558 number represents a 48 percent increase in reported burglaries from FFLs compared to 2015, these crimes remain a high concern for our industry today.

Common Vulnerabilities

Common vulnerabilities that criminals look for when targeting a firearms dealer or range include:

  • Lack of adequate perimeter and site security measures, including fences, bollards, landscape design and exterior lighting. Exterior lighting that doesn’t illuminate all night or include motion sensing activation will be noted by criminal elements.
  • Building designs that lack security considerations, including smash-resistant doors, gates, glass, security grills and gates, exposed exterior walls and easy roof access.
  • Lower-quality, non-commercial locks and door hardware or missing lock guard plates. Commercial grade and key way-controlled (keys can’t be copied) access points, dead bolts, guard plates, emergency egress locks and secondary locking mechanisms will be noted as deterrents to criminals.
  • Alarm systems, including those that encompass glass protection, interior motion sensors, door and access panel contacts and panic buttons.

Minimum Protective Measures

The minimum protective measures firearms retailers and range operators should consider include:

  • Planning and preparedness through a site-specific threat analysis and vulnerability assessment.
  • Discussing a “consequence analysis” with your management team to understand the potential downsides of a burglary.
  • Developing a crisis response action plan in the event a burglary should occur.

Additional Considerations

Once you’ve created your crisis response action plan, regularly examine:

  • The flow of range customers from entry-to-exit.
  • Considerations for carry of personal firearms, ammo bags, etc. through your store.
  • Any webcam-enabled system that alerts you to activity and lets you check in on the store remotely.

Your Role in Security

Physical security is where your store’s anti-criminal efforts begin, but you and your employees are also critical to your security program’s success. Encourage your staff—and even your customers—to follow the “see something, say something” rule.