Over 40,000 Guns Stolen from Unlocked Cars in 2020

Second Amendment

We don’t meant to kick off your work week with a scolding via public service announcement but please, don’t leave your guns unsecured in your cars. If you do, they may not be your guns for very long.

In case you missed it:

Guns stolen from cars are now the largest source of stolen guns in America, the New York Times reports based on an analysis of Federal Bureau of Investigation data by the gun control group Everytown For Gun Safety. Thieves will sweep through neighborhoods, parking lots and garages, particularly during sport events and concerts, when drivers from the suburbs park in urban areas for long periods or vehicles that proudly display their support for the second amendment via stickers and decals. Perhaps the most ironic fad in the last few years are stickers reading “molon labe” which means “come and take them” in ancient Greek.

A bipartisan group of Tennessee lawmakers introduced a bill that would, rather meekly, address the problem after years of record gun thefts. But even a simple law requiring gun owners to store their weapons in a locked box in their cars, and receive nothing more than a court-ordered gun safety class for ignoring the law, is receiving staunch pushback, from NYT:

…some experts say widespread adoption of the boxes may require a dramatic cultural change akin to the revolution in seatbelt use. And it may prove to be even more polarizing than seatbelts ever were. The National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates believe car lockbox mandates to be an onerous burden — a reflection of how the avalanche of guns is creating new sources of conflict.

Many lockboxes are relatively cheap. Simple versions that can attach to the underside of a car seat with a cable can be found for about $40, and some cities have even begun developing programs to give them away. In Houston, where more than 4,400 guns were stolen from cars last year, the police have given away roughly 700 such boxes this year, according to Houston Police Sgt. Tracy Hicks, and have plans to give away 6,300 more.

Some skeptics doubt even widespread use of the boxes would make much of a dent in gun violence in a nation with more than 400 million firearms in circulation. “It’s like peeing in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Peter Scharf, a criminologist at the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, which had one of the nation’s highest homicide rates in 2022.

With Memphis leading the country in gun car thefts and Nashville not terribly behind in 15th place. Gun thefts have skyrocketed in Nashville over the last decade, from 152 thefts in 2012 to 1,378 in 2020. Tennessee is particularly focused on promoting safe gun storage. Though to be fair to Tennessee, only 15 states require the reporting of lost or stolen guns, so there is no clear picture on just how widespread the problem really is. Predictably, groups like the NRA are against these safety proposals, which they say will make gun owners wary of reporting a gun theft for fear of reprisal.

Representative John Gillespie, a Memphis Republican who co-sponsored Mr. Hemmer’s bill, was frustrated by such arguments. “I’m more than willing to increase the penalties for people stealing a gun,” he said. “But are we really that burdened by asking someone to properly lock up their gun in a vehicle so it can’t be stolen?”

It’s not just guns in cars that are on the rise. The Transportation Security Administration if finding more guns than every in carry-on luggage—many of them loaded. You can read the entire New York Times report here.

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