WASHINGTON—Firearm thefts from federally licensed dealers increased slightly for the second consecutive year in 2015, according to a new accounting issued Friday by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives.
The ATF reported that 6,173 guns, most of them handguns, were reported stolen last year, up from 5,719 in 2014.
While thefts were up, the number reported as lost declined more sharply, from 13,510 in 2014 to 8,637.
The ATF report comes as the Obama administration is seeking to tighten reporting controls on both lost and stolen guns as part of series of executive actions issued in January.
Federal authorities have expressed concern that thefts and losses have long been under-counted because of confusion over who is responsible for making such a report — dealers or gunmakers — when the losses occur while firearms are in transit.
According to federal authorities, an average of 1,300 firearms recovered in criminal investigations are traced to licensees who claimed never to have received the guns, though the weapons were never reported stolen.
The new rules would require that the shipping licensees report when firearms are stolen or lost.
The vast majority of last year’s gun thefts, 4,721, involved burglaries, according to ATF records.