We know it’s not law-abiding gun owners committing crimes throughout the country, but in Tennessee, they’re unintentionally contributing to criminals’ cache.
Dedrick Hampton’s car was broken into in 2013 by a criminal who threw his CD’s on the ground, then made off with the loose change and a thousand dollar gun that was left in the vehicle.
“A crook has my gun, probably some illegal stuff,” Hampton said.
Tennessee passed a law in 2014 providing law-abiding gun owners the right to keep a loaded handgun, shotgun or rifle in a vehicle they legally possess. But the law also unwittingly provided criminals with access to loaded weapons.
Memphis Police Department said prior to the law, 473 guns were recorded stolen from vehicles. By November 2015, that number rose to 623 – a 31.7% increase – and so far in 2016, MPD has recorded more than 720 guns have been stolen from vehicles.
“If it hampers our ability to keep the community safe. If it puts more guns in the criminal element, then it is a problem and we need to recognize it as such” said Memphis Police Director Mike Rallings. “Laws have unintended consequences and this is one of them.”
Second Amendment supporters say the problem isn’t the law, it’s the restrictions the law puts on law-abiding citizens.
“It is one of the unintended consequences of the law that allows people to post no guns allowed” said TN Senator Mark Norris.
Gun owners are encouraged to store their firearms in a lockbox like this if they have to leave their firearms in an unattended vehicle to help keep guns out of the hands of criminals.