NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – There are gun stores all over Middle Tennessee and federal agents said more and more of them are being burglarized.
Ken Lane owns Bullseye Guns, Gear, and Pawn in Murfreesboro, where not everyone entering the store wants to get a gun the right way.
In February, a video showed several accused thieves trying to steal firearms before the workers chased after them.
“It was a touchy situation that could’ve really gone South,” said Lane.
That was not the first time the store was hit and they’re not alone.
Burglars broke into Music City Pawn in South Nashville in April.
That same month, surveillance video shows three people hammering their way into Huck Defense Company on Old Hickory Boulevard.
That was the second time the store was broken into in two weeks, and the owner said $5,000 in handguns were stolen.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) said it’s a growing trend.
They’re currently offering rewards for the Nashville Field Division’s six cases so far this year.
“We’ve seen 6 FFL thefts – Federal Firearm Licensing thefts – probably in the last six months not only here in Nashville but I cover the state of Alabama as well,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson. “There’s been a rash of FFL thefts.”
Watson says thieves are driving cars through the doors, using axes, and cutting holes through roofs, just to get their target.
That’s why the ATF is always on standby to investigate gun store burglaries because while the burglary is a state crime, stealing the firearms is ATF’s jurisdiction.
“It’s like a 912 call for us. 911 call is the primary call to the local jurisdiction, 912 to us,” said Watson. “We get our industry operation investigator to do a full inventory, we look at the video, we canvass the neighborhood and I would say that those, In a perfect scenario like that, we’re pretty good at getting a lead and recovering a percentage of those guns.”
He said if the ATF jumps on the case within a day, agents have a higher chance of catching the culprits and recover the stolen firearms.
“Oftentimes those guns get into that grey market and that illegal market and until it’s used in a crime, we don’t know,” Watson said.
While law enforcement handles the crime, he says businesses selling guns need to do their part in keeping them out of the wrong hands.
“We work with industry partners to say listen – you’ve got a business, you’re not selling lottery tickets, you’re selling firearms,” said Watson.
The ATF advises making sure the building itself is secured, paying attention to who’s hired, and getting a good video surveillance system.
“We have state of the art security equipment of course,” said Lane. “We didn’t want to lose our guns, you know. Gun stores are prime targets for thieves for obvious reasons so we wanted to be protected if we were robbed, we want to be able to catch the thieves.”
Catch the thieves they did, but Lane said seeing these thefts is troubling.
“Anytime someone steals from you, you feel violated. And I think that’s kinda where we were,” he said. “It’s a statement of what we’ve become. It’s just the culture and it’s sad, really sad.”
News 2 digs deeper into the disturbing trend of stolen guns, the impact on the area and the effect on crime rates. Watch our special reports “Guns of Nashville” all day Thursday in every newscast. Plus, stay tuned for a half-hour special Sunday, September 22 at 4:30 p.m. Click here for more.