Shelby County authorities: 2014 legislation leads to increase in stolen guns from cars

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Reports show there's been a large increase in stolen guns from vehicles in recent years in Memphis.

Many experts believe it directly correlates to legislation that was passed in 2014 allowing lawfully-owned firearms to be left in cars.

Keith Warner at Warner Gun Smithing says if you’re leaving a gun in your car, you have a responsibility to secure it.

“It’s hard to get into a routine of doing that. A lot of people and I’m guilty of it, it’s like, 'Oh I’m in a hurry, oh I’m going to stick it under the seat,' well that’s the first place they’re going to look,” Warner said.

More than 1,200 guns were reported stolen from cars last year in Memphis.

That’s almost triple the amount that were reported stolen in 2014, which is the year legislation passed allowing people to keep guns in their car.

In 2013, 356 firearms were reported stolen from vehicles.

In 2014, 464 were reported stolen.

In 2015, 590 were reported stolen.

In 2016, 809 were reported stolen.

“It is very concerning that there are that many more guns being stolen out of cars and they’re not being stolen from people who want to turn them in and give them back to their rightful owner," Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said.

Weirich says guns are now easier to transport and easier for criminals to use in crimes.

“How would you feel as a responsible gun owner if your car’s broken into, your gun is stolen and that gun is used to kill an innocent citizen?” Weirich asked.

That’s why gun experts say it’s worth investing in a firearm safe for your car.

They range in size and pricing, but they're generally less than $200.

They can be placed in different areas of the car and require a key or fingerprint to open.

“We’ve bolted them in the trunk before," Warner said as he showed us a safe available at Keith Warner Gunsmith, Inc. "Yes, there’s irresponsible people all over the place but as a gun owner, you’re responsible for that firearm."

If possible, authorities never want you to leave your gun in your car, but they understand there are times you may have to.

It’s important to report these cases to police so they can track them as well.