Albuquerque editorial has harsh words for gun owners

Albuquerque editorial has harsh words for gun owners
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Newspaper editorials are rarely favorable toward gun owners. Sure, it happens in some smaller communities, but in many others, we tend to see gun owners getting blasted for plenty of things that, frankly, aren’t our fault.

It makes us a tad sensitive.

Well, it makes me a tad sensitive.

Which is why my initial reaction to this Albuquerque Journal editorial was to get angry. Titled, “Editorial: Gun owners must help keep firearms out of wrong hands.”

Albuquerque has a serious gun crime problem. And while the criminals who wield those guns — in everything from robberies to carjackings to homicides — are unquestionably to blame, there are thousands of law-abiding gun owners unwittingly contributing to the problem. As well as too many individuals posing as gun buyers, only to flip them to felons and minors who can’t legally purchase them.

So our community needs every law-abiding gun owner and firearms seller to step up and help ensure their firearms do not fall into criminal hands.

However, delving a bit deeper into it, though, they actually have a point.

On average, three to four guns are stolen in Albuquerque every day. Most of the 1,100 to 1,400 guns stolen annually are taken from homes and vehicles. Only a fraction are recovered. Many of the 6,000 guns stolen here since 2018 have been used in property and violent crimes.

There have been 112 homicides in the city this year. How many are a result of stolen guns is anyone’s guess, but, as of last week, 887 guns had been stolen in the city.

It bears repeating that criminals are the ones responsible for committing crimes — for stealing guns and using them in the commission of other crimes. But gun ownership comes with responsibilities that include securing a weapon so it does not easily fall into criminal hands.

I’d like to berate them for this, but the truth is that they have a point. Far too many gun owners don’t properly secure their firearms. This helps criminals a great deal as, well, they don’t have to try and defeat a gun safe in order to obtain firearms.

Now, the editorial isn’t without issues.

For example, it then goes on to discuss straw purchases within this context of discussing law-abiding gun owners stepping up. I have a problem with this.

People who buy guns for others–not buying gifts, mind you, but someone giving you money so you can buy a gun for them–are not law-abiding gun owners. They’re criminals and worse, they know they’re criminals. They’re willfully lying on the Form 4473 when they conduct the purchase, which makes it clear that lying on that form is a crime.

I’m not OK with seeing law-abiding people who might not worry about their guns being stolen lumped in with people who carry out an act they know to be illegal.

Should it be illegal? That’s another discussion and one not relevant to this right here.

So while the editorial board here should get some credit for acknowledging that gun owners aren’t where the ultimate blame rests, they’re still missing the mark on this in at least a handful of key ways.