Tips on Selecting a Gun Shop Burglar Alarm System

By John Bocker, NSSF Compliance Consultant and Security Team Member

Gun Shop Burglar Alarm SystemAs an FFL, critical elements need to be in place to protect your files, computers, inventory and, of course, your firearms. Evaluating the structural security of your store should include its location, locks, walls and ceilings, lighting, security video systems, electronic access for customers and after-hours security of firearms. Of the last, a primary component in your asset security and protection plan should include a burglar alarm system, otherwise referred to as an intrusion detection system (IDS).

ATF Guidelines

In ATF publication 3317.2, available from the ATF resources website, several key safety and security actions are suggested, all of which will create “layers of defense and protection” against criminal acts. More specific guidelines from ATF pub 3317.2 includes the following:

  • Obtain an alarm system—There is no logical justification for a firearms business to be without an alarm system; many states actually require an alarm system for specific businesses, particularly firearms dealers. Most alarm companies will evaluate your needs and make recommendations at no cost. A simple system is far less expensive than the cost of replacing inventory. Now’s the time to ask yourself, are you in compliance with state and local law on your alarm system and other security requirements?
  • Evaluate your existing alarm system—Is it sufficient for the nature and size of your business? Are all points of entry protected? Do you have or need a panic button? Do you have a tamper switch installed on your system? Do you have cellular backup (considered a security industry standard) to protect during power failures or if power and phone lines are cut? Have you tested the system on a regular basis? What staff members are on the emergency and alarm call list and are their phone numbers correct and current? Have you met with the local authorities to agree on protocols when the alarm is tripped? Have you had a series of false alarms and, if so, is the problem in the system or is your response procedure being studied by a savvy criminal?
  • Protect your alarm codes—Have you limited the number of people who know your store’s alarm access codes? Are your codes unrelated to family names, numbers and other easily recognizable or determined sequences? Do you change the codes on a regular basis and whenever there is employee turnover? Have you written the codes where they are easily accessible to thieves or unauthorized employees?

It’s Different Than Your Home Alarm

It’s easy to think that a business burglar alarm system is similar to one installed in your home, but there are so many more options and enhancements to consider with a system designed for business use. Also, your alarm system just doesn’t protect against thieves, it also helps safeguard against fire, natural disasters and vandalism. You never know when or what kind of trouble will present itself, so it’s important to examine all the ways your business can be vulnerable.

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