Throughout the country, communities and states are looking to penalize people for failing to report their guns as stolen. Nevermind that it’s virtually impossible to enforce and that most people may not even retain the serial numbers for their guns so they can report it. No, they want to victimize the victims of gun theft a second time and charge them with a crime after they had their stuff stolen.
Alabama decided to go in a completely different direction on stolen guns and the city of Mobile just made their first arrest under the new law.
Possessing stolen weapons now carries a much stiffer penalty in Alabama, and MPD’s “Lock It Up” campaign creates a one-two punch they’re hoping will make a huge impact in curbing violent crime in our area.
20-year-old Damontray Mack was arrested last week off Dauphin Island Parkway, but this arrest was special. He became the first person in Mobile charged with a felony for possessing a stolen gun.
“I believe having the law changed will benefit us from a safety standpoint, and make our community safer,” said Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste.
After years of beating on the doors of the state legislature Chief Battiste and Public Saftey Director James Barber saw their efforts pay off. House Bill 375 passed, creating much stiffer penalties for possessing a stolen firearm.
“This bill doesn’t just impact the city of Mobile. It impacts the entire state of Alabama. I think a couple years down the road, we’ll see the fruits of our labor to see this legislation passed to a Class C felony,” said Chief Battiste.
Now, just being found with a stolen firearm carries a harsher penalty, one which might dissuade some from even considering carrying such weapons.
In fairness, the worst of the worst won’t care. They’ll just figure they won’t get caught or, if they do, a little prison time will help their street cred. However, a lot of those same people aren’t smart enough to not be caught. They’ll be stopped for whatever reason, searched, and then arrested for carrying a stolen weapon.
Further, this will serve as an additional charge for those who have been arrested for other crimes that they may or may not have committed with those guns.
At the end of the day, though, a felony means prison time. That means more time behind bars and off the streets.
It also helps that a law like this doesn’t blame the gun for the actions of a person. It blames the tool using it rather than the tool itself. By locking those people up for longer, you’re taking the dangerous people off the streets for longer, thus making the streets just a bit safer. Do that enough and you make the streets much, much safer.
We already know that most guns used by criminals are obtained illegally. Most of those are stolen, to be precise, then sold on the black market. By making these arrests, they’re killing two birds with one stone.
Honestly, I don’t see it being much of a deterrence for most of the problem people, but it will result in harsher penalties and possibly lock some of them up before they can hurt anyone. That’s a big win in my book.