One way to chip away at our shocking rate of gun violence is to make it harder to steal firearms.
Across the country, as revealed this week by a stunning new study, burglars break into gun shops and make off with bags of firearms within a matter of minutes. They steal some $164 million worth of guns each year. Every handgun and rifle then enters an illegal market that flows across state lines, and often they are used to commit crimes. As Chicago knows too well.
This week, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., introduced a bill so obviously right it’s hard to believe it is even necessary. It would require gun shops to lock up their inventory at the close of every business day. That would make it at least marginally harder for burglars to steal large numbers of guns before the cops show up.
Meanwhile, in Springfield, the Illinois House should approve bill that already has passed the state Senate that would require better security measures as part of state licensing of gun dealers.
Between 2012 and 2016, the number of burglaries at gun stores spiked by 48 percent and the number of robberies soared by 175 percent, according to the new analysis of Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives data by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. Illinois had the 12th highest number of guns stolen from dealers during those years.
You can bet those weapons weren’t stolen by people with a hankering to shoot skeet.
Just last weekend, six people were killed and 35 were wounded by guns in Chicago. At the current rate, Chicago will have more homicides this year than in 2016, when homicides soared to their highest level since the mid-1990s.
Gun shops aren’t the only source of gun thefts. Gun owners can help keep illegal guns off the streets by locking up their weapons, and businesses that transport weapons should tighten security as well to prevent such incidents as the 2015 theft of 111 firearms from a South Side rail yard.
Gun violence is a complicated problem with no single solution, but simply doing a better job of locking up legal guns can actually save lives.
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