MEMPHIS, Tenn. — So far this year, the Memphis Police Department reports more than 1,000 guns have been stolen from vehicles and last year, it was more than 2,000.

The huge increase came after the state passed a law in 2014 allowing people to carry guns in their vehicles.

Many WREG viewers have asked us whether there is an ordinance the city can pass to hold gun owners responsible if they leave their weapon unsecured in their car, similar to the ordinance that fines people for leaving their car running and unattended.

We found out from the council’s deputy chief of staff that state law preempts the city in this case, meaning Memphis is not able to introduce or enforce an ordinance related to the regulation of gun storage.

Tennessee code Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1314 preempts all local regulation of firearms and ammunition, including the transportation and storage of firearms.

Another Tennessee law, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1313 , legalized transporting and storing firearms and ammunition in motor vehicles for lawful gun owners. 

We asked city council members where they stood on the issue. Only three responded.

Councilman Ford Canale said: “Yes I would absolutely support an ordinance fining people for leaving their guns unsecured in their car.”

Councilman Jeff Warren said: “We must do everything within our power to reduce gun and other types of violent crimes in our city” and added “should the Memphis City Council even consider an ordinance to regulate gun storage, the first bill the Tennessee General Assembly would consider in January would be a law to preempt our actions.”

Councilwoman Patrice Robinson said: She would support it and “is willing to testify before our state legislators!”

Police Chief CJ Davis said: “We are really working, not just with city council, about new ordinances and legislation to make our community safer and to get in front of some of these crimes, we are also working with the state.”

Critics have said in the past there’s a fine line with this, because you don’t want anything on the books that keeps people from reporting a stolen gun.

Police say it’s vital people report stolen weapons to help their investigation and also the DA’s office with charges.

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