Gun store thefts investigated by FDLE as new gun store bill considered

Hitting a gun store gives crooks a lot of weapons at once.  The Florida Department of Law-Enforcement is looking at four Central Florida cases from the past month trying to figure out if it’s the same suspects in each case.

In the meantime, lawmakers have a bill about this issue, but many gun store owners tell FOX 35 News they aren’t thrilled about it. 

A police poster from Port St. Lucie is circulating among law-enforcement agencies all over Florida. FDLE is taking the lead on the investigation because at least four gun store burglaries have been committed in a month. 

Monday’s burglary in Port St. Lucie is the latest. Two law-enforcement agencies tell FOX 35 News that smash and grab has a familiar feel to it reminds them of the case involving the Red Dot gun store in Rockledge.  Police say more than 20 weapons were stolen.  The suspects in Rockledge used the same getaway car in two other gun store burglaries -- one in West Melbourne and one in Ocala. 

We talked with gun-store owners about the problem. Bill Stasak owns WJS Outdoors in Merritt Island.

"The lawmakers should make sure the bad guys stay in jail." Stasak said, "They can't pass laws to fix this."

Stasak is referring to House Bill 923, which will be moving through Tallahassee this session. The bill aims to make gun stores more secure and less vulnerable to burglars during the overnight hours. The bill, if it becomes law, would require every single gun in a store to be secured. A couple of methods could be used. Putting a metal rod or cable through the trigger guard. Then locking and shackling that - so bolt cutters couldn't penetrate. Option B would be putting all guns in a vault or safe. Option C would be a hardened locked cabinet that is impact resistant. 

Sheriff John Mina of Orange County is backing the bill. "This is common-sense legislation and I think the average citizen out there expects and already thinks that gun stores are supposed to be doing that," Mina said.

" I don’t find that having to run cables through everything is good, we have multiple security settings in place in our store," Stasak said.

Three other gun store owners tell FOX 35 News they are concerned they don’t have the manpower or the time to be in compliance if the bill is passed into law. They say taking every single gun away from where it’s displayed - and then putting it back out every morning could affect store hours and operating costs.

"We have plenty of security in place and I don’t think the government should be telling me how I should have to secure the things, as long as they are secure, and follow the ATF federal guidelines, which we do follow," Stasak said.

This issue touches the Business and Professions subcommittee and the Criminal Justice subcommittee. Five states already have the law.