NRA pushback expected as Philly moves to enforce law on reporting stolen or lost guns

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announces his intention to enforce a 2009 city law that mandates gun owners report a weapon's loss or theft to police. The National Rifle Association is taking issue with that move. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announces his intention to enforce a 2009 city law that mandates gun owners report a weapon's loss or theft to police. The National Rifle Association is taking issue with that move. (Tom MacDonald/ WHYY)

For about a decade, Philadelphia has had a law requiring gun owners to alert police if their weapon is lost or stolen. Now, District Attorney Larry Krasner has said he will begin enforcing it.

But he anticipates a court fight from the National Rifle Association.

No one has ever been charged under the law that calls for a $2,000 fine for a first offense and another $2,000 fine, with a potential of up to 90 days in jail for repeat offenses.

Compliance, said Krasner, is simple.

“Somebody steals your gun, you lose your gun, you gotta get on the phone and call 911,” he said. “That’s it.”

The NRA, which once tried to challenge the law in court, was rebuffed since no one had been charged under what it characterizes as “a bad law.”

“The only person who stands to suffer from a law like this is the law-abiding person who bought the firearm legally to begin with,” said NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter. “So a law like this doesn’t make anyone safer.”

Reporting lost or stolen guns could make it harder to sell them, said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross.

“This is one of those things that we believe will help us,” Ross said Wednesday. “You have to play this role, and we can’t get mired in the notion that this is not going to matter.”

The NRA has not decided whether to challenge the law again after the first person is prosecuted for breaking it.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.