Thursday, August 10, 2017

FFL-licensed holder gun thefts and robberies on sharp rise

Even with relatively stable firearms sales a growing number of individuals believe that free beats using a credit card or cash.

Increasingly over at least the past few years the number of firearms thefts and firearms-related robberies has climbed appreciably.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly and simply referred to as the BATF) reports that in the 2015 calendar year alone statistics show that 436 federally licensed firearms dealers reported gun store burglaries. Last year that figure sharply rose to 558 such instances.

Translated into actual numbers, the 2015 calendar year saw the heist of 4,721 firearms, a figure that jumped to 7,488 in calendar year 2016, says the BATF.

Going back a little further, the figures supplied by the BATF show that in calendar year 2012, there were only 377 burglaries of licensed firearms dealers which resulted in the theft of 4,340 firearms.

As for robberies of federal licensed dealers, in 2012 that figure was just 12, increasing to 33 in calander year 2016. Thus the BATF says that number of (largely) gun store-associated robberies has increased 175 percent.

This jump is seen in the number of firearms stolen during robberies of FFL licensed holders, too, up from 118 in calendar year 2012 to 370 in calendar year 2016; or an increase of 214 percent.

By BATF definition, “Burglary is the unlawful entry of a structure to commit a felony or theft. A robbery is taking anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence. While there is nuance and each case is assessed individually, overwhelmingly you will see that burglaries occur during non-operating hours and robberies occur during operating hours.”

The aforementioned legal description was provided by Suzanne L. Dabkowski, Public Information Officer for the BATF’s Columbus Field Division.

Also, gun stores (BATF’s designated Type 01 dealers) were targeted in 50-percent of the combined robbery and burglary categories. This was followed by 30-percent for Type 02 FFL-license holders, or pawn shops.

Refined further,75 percent of all robbery thefts involved handguns while almost 23 percent were long-guns, says the BATF.

Asked about 03 FFL license holders – those persons with the federal government’s Curio and Relic firearms collector’s permits - thefts and robberies are almost non-existent, Dabkowski says.

“They’re pretty rare, and I can think of only one such instance in my career,” Dabkowski says. “03 (Curio and Relic) license holders tend to be very discreet about their collections., which often contain valuable firearms.”

Dabkowski says that firearms thefts and robberies of FFL dealers at gun shows are unusual as well, though not to the same degree experienced by Curio and Relic license holders.

“And then it typically involves the theft of one or two firearms from off a display table,” Dabkowski said. “They’re not huge numbers by any means.”

A chief key in any firearms recovery effort is maintaining good firearms records, including for individuals. While not mandated by BATF rule-making authority, keeping a list of the serial numbers and descriptions of one’s personal firearms is paramount in any recovery, Dabkowski says too.

Even if a stolen firearm is used in a crime, the owner of the weapon can see that the firearm is returned once all of the legal wrangling involving the criminal is completed, Dabkowski says.

However, if a claim for the stolen firearm is made with an insurance company – whether that claim is undertaken by a FFL dealer or an individual – a recovered firearm than becomes that firm’s property. Which means that the firearm’s ultimate disposal is up to the insurer, Dabkowski says.

Dabkowski says the BATF has a publication available to assist firearms dealers in protecting their investments. The agency’s “Loss Prevention for Retailers” is found on the agency’s web site; The agency also maintains a toll-free hotline for FFL-license-associated firearms thefts and robberies.

For individuals, the BATF likewise has an on-line publication designed to help prevent at-residence gun thefts and robberies. This PDF-format publication is The agency’s “Personal Firearms Record” downloadable publication can be found through the agency’s portal at

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, August 7, 2017

Army Corps' 288-page draft report offers possible options to stop Asian carp invasion

While Ohio’s junior senator Rob Portman is heralding the August 7th release of theArmy Corps of Engineers’ draft report to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, the 488-page document is far from the last word on the subject.

Indeed, the “Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study – Brandon Road Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Statement – Will County Illinois” is long in name though short on any promise to keep three species of invasive Asian carp species now residing in the Mississippi Watershed from crossing the line into the Great Lakes.

The stakes are high, though. Portman notes that the Great Lakes support a $7 billion fishing industry and Lake Erie contributes more than $10 billion to Ohio’s tourism industry.

Both of which would be jeopardized if Asian carp were allowed into the Great Lakes,” Portman says.

And the Corps’ recreational economic impact figures for the Great Lakes as a whole are even greater: “ is estimated that the annual economic contribution of recreational fishing in and around the (Great Lakes Basin) is approximately $13.3 billion,” the Corps report says.

Even so, the Corps is less certain regarding what an Asian carp invasion may – or may not mean – to the vast Great Lakes eco-system. The report notes in extensive detail the watershed’s biological complexity that embraces about 302,000 square miles and includes more than 5,000 tributaries.

Estimates of ecosystem changes were only available for Lake Erie’s biomass, and are varied and uncertain,” notes the Corps in its guardedly worded report.

Still, the Corps’ draft document – and draft is the operative word even Portman acknowledges – does detail six potential options to deal with the matter.

These six possible choices include – 1) No new action (thus, no action); 2) non-structural action (such as netting and strategic positioning of boat ramps); 3) Technical alternative involving electrical barriers; 4) Technical alternative involving “complex noise” systems; 5) Technical alternatives involving both electrical and complex noise systems; 6) Canal lock closure.

However, the Corps says in the report that it cannot offer any guarantees with any of the currently offered options.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate structural and nonstructural options and technologies near the Brandon Road Lock and Dam site to prevent the upstream transfer of ANS (Asian carp) from the Mississippi River Basin into the Great Lakes Basin, while minimizing impacts on existing waterway uses and users.

For this study, ‘prevent’ means the reduction of risk to the maximum extent possible, because it may not be technologically feasible to achieve an absolute solution,” the report says up front on page 21.

Portman – and fellow elected federal legislators from other Great Lakes states – are not about to give up or take “no” for an answer. Above all, the officials say, the need is very real in order to help ensure that “federal, state, and local policymakers can determine the most effective measures to prevent further Asian carp movement,” Portman said.

My colleagues and I have urged the Corps to release this plan so that there is no delay in implementing measures to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp,” Portman said. “It is important that the Corps remain on schedule to finalize the plan by January of 2019, and I look forward to working with stakeholders and the Corps to do just that.”

The Corp is accepting comments on the draft report through the GLMRIS website, mail, and hand-delivery. Comments will be accepted through September 21, 2017.

Mailed and hand delivered comments can be sent to: US Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District
231 S. LaSalle St. Suite 1500, ATTN: GLMRIS – Brandon Road Comments Chicago, IL 6060.

A yet-to-be-determined series of public meetings around the Great Lakes is scheduled also. Dates, times, and locations will be announced, the Corps says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ohio's Dog Days cicada brood emergence is catnip for state's wild turkeys

A newly emerging variety of cicadas – called “Dog Days” cicadas - is going to help fuel this year’s crop of wild turkey pollets.

And these young turkeys are anticipated to assist in filling up Ohio’s all ready populated flock of the species.

Thus perhaps for this fall’s wild turkey-hunting season and almost certainly for next year’s spring wild turkey-hunting season, the woods will echo loudly with the sound of gobbler-speak and turkey hen-led squadrons of birds.

For the past several weeks some portions of Ohio have seen the arrival – emergence in science lingo – of what’s known as “Dog Days” cicadas, including a swath of Northeast Ohio. This class of the fearsome-looking though harmless cicadas appear annually, though staggered enough so that individuals can fully utilize their two- to three-year develop cycle.

That is the take from The Ohio State University’s Extension Service which has studied the species habits in Ohio and has published several items on the subject.

The Extension Service’s published data also hastens to note that the Dog Days variety of cicadas is the same as but a different group of the insects which appear on 13-year and 17-year cycles. In 2016 a large portion of Ohio was inundated with a heavy emergence of 17-year cicadas that helped feed a good hatch of wild turkeys.

Which in turn helped biological fund an excellent kill of birds during this past spring’s wild turkey-hunting season, says Mark Wiley, an Ohio Division of Wildlife research biologist,

This past spring’s wild turkey-hunting season saw a total kill of 21,015 birds compared to the 17,793 birds shot during the 2016 spring season. And much of the huge by-county-recorded gains overlapped where 2016’s huge cicada Brood V occurred; which became a timely deli for the just-hatching baby wild turkeys as well as their parents.

Thing is, cicadas are protein dynamos that are eagerly sought after by wild turkeys and other forms of fowl and all.
Such an energy supply is being helped kept full by the Dog Days branch of the surprisingly large and diverse cicada family tree. The next significant emergence of the nearly always prolific multi-year cicada storm is expected in 2019.

That emergence will occur along a generally small quarter-moon-shape of territory from southeast Ashtabula County and bulging out into Trumbull and Mahoning counties before curving back into northeast Jefferson County. This batch of cicadas is known as Brood VIII.

Ohio's next massive emergence of cicadas across a larger portion of the state is expected with Brood X in 2021 and also Brood XIV in 2025. Such appearances are important, says students of cicada lore because the vast numbers of emergent insects so overwhelm predators that more than enough of the insects avoid being eaten and consequently keep their tribe fruitful for the next brood go-round.

In the meantime the Dog Days cicada class is helping to sustain Ohio’s wild turkey pollet survival and which will thus help the hunters’ chase for birds this coming fall and next spring, says Wiley.

“Absolutely a good brood cycle is excellent for wild turkey production and turkey harvest,” Wiley said. “Our wild turkey brood index in 2016 was three time greater than average. And that was reflected in this year’s spring turkey harvest figures.”

Better still, says Wiley also, is that this fall the state’s hunters should see not only a goodly number of now-mature birds from the 2016 wild turkey hatch but also a respectable number of birds born this year.

“That is assuming we follow the pattern that we saw 17 years ago,” Wiley said. “Generally, we see a turkey harvest spike two years after a large cicada brood harvest. That means there should be a good number of two-year old birds to hunt.”

Thanks in some measure at least to the broods of diet-rich cicadas which just don’t have it in their genetic make-up to wait 13 years, let alone 17 years.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

To get to sportsmen's and sportswomen's wallets, first find out what they're thinking

The outdoors industry is well aware of the truism that if it wants to tap the wallets of hunters and anglers than it first must plumb their minds.

And few are as good at cracking the skulls of sportsman then Fernandina Beach, Florida-based Southwick and Associates. This survey and subsequent analysis firm’s on-going electronic-based questionnaires delve into the most minutiae of details.

Though clients spend big bucks to learn what Southwick uncovers the firm does offer up interesting teasers that do point in the direction where hunters and anglers are willing to travel in order to leave their respective credit card numbers in their wake.

Among Southwick’s most recent findings include the detail that AR-platform rifle buyers are not only younger but also are more ethnically diverse than have been – and are – buyers of other long gun forms.

These two noteworthy points reinforce what other findings suggest, the hypothesis being that today’s veterans returning to civilian life are familiar with AR-platform rifles and feel comfortable in owning and using them. This, in much the way returning veterans of World War I took up Springfield and Enfield Pattern rifles while World War II veterans believed that nothing beat the M1 Garand or the Colt Model 1911 pistol.

Also, today’s AR-platform rifle buyers are spending more on various uses for their firearms as well as visiting the gun range more frequently, says Southwick.

In tracking other data collected by its exhaustive surveying methodology, Southwick found through its most recent data-collection that just shy of 84 percent of the hunters it contacted said they chased deer: obviously no big surprise there.

However, Southwick’s surveying techniques do show that based on percentages, almost as many hunters  now go after feral hogs/wild boar (10.4 percent) as is the number who chase wild turkeys (10.5 percent). And even more hunters pursue predators than either turkeys or hogs; 13.6 percent, based on Southwick’s surveying strategies.

Southwick even goes so far as to pluck the grains of brand popularity among both anglers and hunters. For instance, Southwick found that the top handgun ammunition brand is Winchester while the most frequently purchased broadhead is made by Rage and the favored clay target is White Flyer.

Interesting stuff for a deer camp argument, for sure, but of immense importance to manufacturers who need such data in developing sales and marketing campaigns.

Of importance to the end users of the products that outdoor-related companies make and retailers sell is our buying habits; which in good economic times and bad economic times remain surprisingly stable, says Southwick.

“In recent years, sportfishing and hunting have remained resilient. During the time of recession (2008-2010), sportsmen and women still purchased licenses and our industry fared better than many others,” says a Southwick note on the subject.

“Economic shock caused many people to reconsider their hobbies and consumption habits and to look for greater value.  After re-evaluating what’s important to them, fishing and hunting often rose to the top.”

And that core importance was taken up by state fish and game agencies which by and large did not throttle back on programing and providing opportunities, says Southwick.

Consequently, hunting and fishing license sales increased after “long periods of decline,” said Southwick.

“Though not all sectors in our industry fared equally well, our industry did better than many other parts of the U.S. economy,” Southwick said.

Thus, what a hunter, shooter or angler is likely to find on a store shelf is owed in more than a little measure to the advanced scouting work of survey takers and data analyzers; that is, so long as manufacturers and retails don’t turn a deaf ear to what the statisticians uncover about us outdoors people.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn