Atlanta, GA

Georgia's Lenient Gun Laws Contribute to Number of Guns Stolen from Legal Owners by Criminals

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Concern expressed by Atlanta police over large number of guns stolen from legal owners who left guns unsecured in cars

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Guns are being stolen from cars in Atlanta in record numbers. Thieves are taking them from trunks, under seats, glove boxes, and beneath floor mats. They are being taken while owners are out to dinners, shopping, visiting friends, walking or asleep in their homes just feet away as the crime is taking place. Thieves are stealing pistols, revolvers, shotguns, and assault-style rifles.

The Atlanta Police Department said last week that at least 827 guns have been stolen from gun owners’ cars in the city this year to date, and that those guns are significantly contributing to the increase in crime observed in Atlanta since the same time last year. With murders up more than 60 percent from this time last year, Atlanta leaders are looking for ways to curb the increase in gun violence and crime occurring across the city. One factor being focused on is the responsibility of legal gun owners to keep their weapons secured such that they cannot be stolen.

Atlanta Police Appeal to Gun Owners to Be More Responsible

In light of the vast number of guns stolen from cars, police in Atlanta are requesting that residents that own guns make more responsible decisions about securing their weapons. Officers say that frequently guns are stolen by criminals who would not have a legal means of getting one, or by those willing to illegally sell guns to criminals. Many stolen guns have been recovered at the sites of violent crimes in which they were used.

“We don’t want violent criminals to have more access to guns. Felons can’t buy guns but they can steal them,” said Atlanta Police Officer Steve Avery.

Police have made a public appeal for gun owners to not leave their guns inside of their vehicles, even in a locked glove box. If they can break into the car, they can break into the glove box.

Those who feel they must have a gun in their car and leave it there when they aren’t in the vehicle should make sure to use a gun safe. They recommend choosing one that can be bolted into place so that it can’t be removed. If the thief can remove the gun safe, they take it someone private to work on opening it.

The Atlanta Police Department issued a message discussing what goes into department put responsible gun ownership and usage on their social media channels.

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Atlanta Police Department shares message on Twitter about responsible gun ownershipAtlanta Police Department/Twitter

Click here to listen Officer Steve Avery's message

Atlanta Mayor Calls for Stricter Gun Laws to Decrease Number of Guns on the Street

In a press conference Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that Georgia's gun laws need to change to get guns off of the streets.

"There are too many guns on our streets ... and too many people in our communities who don't have regard for basic human life," Bottoms stated during the conference.

In her news conference the Atlanta mayor said that the state needs to tighten lax gun laws. At the same time, she recognizes that solving the problem of violent crime is complex. Biut she strongly believes that until we can address the number of guns on the streets and how guns get into the hands of criminals there will be more deaths.

She appealed to state leaders to pass legislature that provides stricter gun laws that will prevent criminals from getting guns that originate in the hands of legal owners. However, Governor Brian Kemp doesn’t agree with the mayor.

"Well, I mean, that's ridiculous, that has nothing to do with the problems we are seeing in Atlanta,” Kemp said. The governor added that Bottoms is just trying to avoid responsibility for being unable to control the crime in her city.

It was pointed out that while 19 states let people carry a concealed firearm without a permit that Georgia isn’t one of them. Yet, the fact that you don’t need a license to carry a handgun in your home, car, workplace, while fishing or hunting or when it is kept unloaded in a case wasn’t addressed by opponents.

At the same time, the Atlanta mayor recognizes that the problem of gun violence is a complex one. She created a task force to come up with recommendations for reducing crime, specifically gun related crime and violence in Atlanta. To that end, Police Chief Rodney Bryant announced he is restructuring the police department to form a domestic violence unit and to expand the department’s gun assault unit.

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