Memphis police chief has gun stolen from car

Don Petersen

One of the easiest ways for criminals to get their hands on a gun is to simply steal one. No background check, no waiting period… heck, no need to pay cash. Just smash and grab.

It doesn’t take long for a thief to snatch a sidearm either. And it can happen to any gun owner caught unaware; even the chief of police in Memphis, Tennessee.

MPD responded to a theft call around 3 p.m. in Cordova at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery. The car owner told officers he parked his car in the parking lot and went inside the business. Officers say Chief Cerelyn Davis was a passenger of the vehicle.

When he returned to the vehicle, he noticed a backpack and the chief’s handgun and the lockbox it was in was missing. The backpack was later recovered.

The handgun was Chief Davis’ secondary duty weapon.

In a statement, Chief CJ Davis said, “This incident is a vivid reminder that even as a police official, I am not immune to the criminal activity that occurs so blatantly in our city. This will only strengthen my resolve to get stolen guns off our streets and bring those perpetrators to justice.”

The issue of gun thefts from vehicles isn’t new, and it isn’t unique to Memphis, but it apparently has been getting worse for some time. There were slightly less than 600 firearms stolen from cars in the city in 2015, but last year the number was closer to 1,000. In fact, Memphis police say that gun thefts from vehicles made up about 75% of all gun thefts in the city in 2021.

Clearly it doesn’t take long for thieves to strike, but there are a few simple things gun owners can do to make it harder for them.

First, if you can bring your gun along with you instead of leaving it in your vehicle, do so. Unfortunately that’s not always going to be an option, especially when we still have businesses and government entities that insist on declaring their premises a “gun-free zone.”

So, if you do have to leave your gun behind, make sure it’s out of sight and stored inside a locked container. Of course, as we just saw with the Memphis police chief, thieves can steal a lockbox with a gun inside just as quickly as they can a gun itself. I’d recommend a car safe with the option to secure it to the car itself, either with a cable lock or actual hardware. Thieves targeting vehicles in public want to get in and out as quickly as possible, so anything you can do to slow them down improves your chances of hanging on to your valuables.

This doesn’t mean, by the way, that you should face fines or even criminal charges if your gun is stolen, as gun control activists demand. Turning crime victims into criminals themselves doesn’t accomplish anything. One thing we can do, however, is to make sure that those stealing, possessing, and selling stolen firearms don’t have their cases plea bargained down to a petty misdemeanor and a slap on the wrist. In fact, under Tennessee’s Constitutional Carry law, theft of a firearm was reclassified as a felony offense. Now it’s up to prosecutors to ensure that those penalties aren’t ignored in favor of just pushing cases through the criminal justice system as quickly as possible.