The recent case of a man who attempted to kill a Philadelphia police officer was big news. It became particularly interesting to us when it was discovered that the shooter’s gun had originally been stolen two years earlier, ironically, from the home of another law enforcement officer.
Then there was Kate Steinle who was killed in San Francisco. The gun used by the murder turned out to have been stolen from a Bureau of Land Management officer’s vehicle several months before.
And there are others. In Florida, a local FBI agent had multiple guns and body armor stolen from his government car at a Jacksonville complex over the Fourth of July weekend. In Massachusetts, a Colt M16-A1 Rifle and an HS Precision Sniper Rifle were stolen from an FBI SWAT vehicle parked at an agent’s home in Andover.
Before being too critical of cops, remember that the majority of lost or stolen guns belonged to civilians. Over the years, I have personally interviewed people who have had guns stolen, either from their homes, businesses, or, most often, from a vehicle. Unfortunately, they exhibited the painful frustration that comes from realizing that, in most cases, they could have easily prevented the loss.
A perfect example is one fellow who had his carry gun stolen from his truck. He had come home late, nearly midnight, after working a double shift, and was “really tired.” So instead of pulling into the garage, he left the vehicle in his driveway…unlocked.
With his gun in the glovebox, also unlocked.
I could hardly suppress my astonishment (not to mention anger). Leaving your truck outside is bad enough (he had plenty of room in his garage), but you were “so tired” that you couldn’t even take 10 seconds to just grab your gun from the glove compartment and take it into the house with you? He sheepishly agreed that he had been incredibly stupid.
And believe me, this guy is not alone. Every year people leave their carry guns in all sorts of places, particularly in public bathrooms. They set their guns on toilet paper dispensers or the back of the tank…then just get up, zip up, and walk out. In few cases does the gun ever get turned in to police—most often it simply “disappears.”
But before you get all high and mighty, declaring with absolute certainty that YOU would never do anything so careless, remember that leaving a gun in a bathroom is far more common than you think. Being preoccupied or in a rush (or worse, both) is a surefire way to find yourself doing something reckless or stupid.
Note that all of these cases underscore what pro-gun-rights advocates have said all along: that violent criminals don’t generally obtain their guns legally. They steal them or get them off the street from someone else who did.
It’s embarrassing and humiliating enough to have to report a lost or stolen firearm. Even worse is finding out, sometimes months or years later, that your gun was used in a crime, especially a homicide.
Such incidents should remind every gun owner, and especially those of us who carry, that we have a serious responsibility to keep our firearms safe. Take the extra moment to ensure that your gun is always under your control, whether at home or out in public.
Protect yourself. But protect your gun, too.