Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gun control rant

Last week, I bemoaned the number of firearms stolen from unlocked motor vehicles in Lincoln--noting that about half of those guns were stolen from people who are supposedly firearms-savvy: the holders of concealed carry permits.

The form of gun control mentioned in the title of this post is the most basic kind: maintaining control of your own gun. I am annoyed that people who feel so confident in their own capabilities that they carry a concealed gun in their vehicle would be so careless as to leave their vehicle unlocked, resulting in their pistol falling into the hands of a criminal.

An incident last evening, however, has sent me over the edge from annoyed to angry. About 5:00 PM, an officer was dispatched to a theft in the 2200 block of O Street. The victim had parked his pickup truck in the alley, and left it unlocked as he went about his business. He returned about 20 minutes later, and found the door ajar. His loaded Smith & Wesson .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol was missing, along with an extra loaded magazine.

About an hour later, another officer was sent to an address about a mile away, after a tip was received that a teenaged runaway was at that address. He spotted the runaway, who did not want be taken into custody. A fight ensued, during which this 18 year old punched the officer. He was forcibly subdued and handcuffed. In his pocket was the loaded pistol stolen earlier, along with the extra magazine. Another 15 year old accompanying him had the victim's holster and a bottle of Hennessy in his backpack.

This was a close call. How easily could this encounter have turned into a fatal one, either for the teenager or the police officer?

All of this might have been avoided if the owner of the pistol had practiced some pretty darned basic gun control: locking his vehicle so his pistol remains under his control, not that of a teenaged runaway and a 15 year old with a taste for Cognac.


20 comments:

Jim said...

Steve will have all the answers. But still you can not fix stupid.

Tom Casady said...

8:22,

I'm sticking with "careless" for now, as I do not know the victim personally. I feel bad for him, though, even if he was careless. He was the victim of a crime, after all. I'd feel worse if this had ended differently. On the other hand, he could have avoided this pretty doggone easily and it just slays me to see this over and over.

Steve said...

Do I smell another city ordinance on the horizon? :)

John said...

Tom - I agree with your definition of gun control. I think that my gun should be in my possession or in my safe. Do you think that gun free zones contribute to this problem? I always lock my car but I worry leaving my gun behind. Not because I'm afraid in a gun free zone, I don't carry out of fear. I worry but because the gun is now not in my physical control.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they need to include IQ tests in the app process.

Tom Casady said...

Steve,

That odor isn't coming from me. I don't think an ordinance would solve the problem. What would help, though, is if gun aficionados would be strong advocates and role models for safe storage and carrying of guns, which includes using gun safes and not storing firearms overnight in motor vehicles. The more the amateurs learn the proper etiquette and practice from the pros, the more likely they will be to follow the norms of the game. This is why even occasional golfers do not drop their golf bag on the green, and why even casual cyclists are more likely to wear bike helmets these days.

It's unwise to leave your pistol in the console for days on end. It could be stolen in one of the most common types of theft there is--a larceny from auto. High humidity and condensation from rapid temperature changes could cause damage to the firearm's finish, components, and ammunition. Someone who has authorized access to your car (like a family member, car detailer, parking attendant, oil change shop employee) could have unintended access to your gun.

In and out in at the beginning and end of your day ought to be the practice, whether via the holster, briefcase, or lock box.

Tom Casady said...

John,

I don't think that has been a factor in any of the thefts this year. Reading all the reports, I saw no evidence of a gun left in an unlocked car due to the owner entering a restricted location. Rather, the great majority were stored at least overnight, if not for several days or even semi-permanently, in a vehicle left unlocked--whether by practice or accident. In only a few cases was it a gun left in the car for a short period--although that was exactly the case last night, when the victim was only gone away from the vehicle for about 20 minutes.

My sense is that too many people are storing pistols in consoles and door pockets more-or-less permanently just like they leave their sunglasses and multi-tool behind. You're a little torqued off when you come out some morning and discover that some jasper has entered your SUV and stolen your Leatherman, your RayBans, and three quarters from your cup holder, but it's an entirely different matter when it includes your Glock, hence it deserves a higher level of protection.

Steve said...

Tom,

Glad to hear you're not planning another ordinance, such as requiring people to lock their cars or some such thing. While I agree fully that one should lock their vehicle when they leave it, I understand there are times and situations when someone might choose otherwise, or forget, or simply not care, and that is, and should be, their choice, not the government's.

I agree that another ordinance is also not the answer. I think John brought up a good point, and though it may not have been the case in any of the recent thefts you've been discussing, I'm sure gun-free zones are a factor in the frequency and duration of guns being left in vehicles. It might even foster the habit in some who might get used to leaving their gun in their vehicle multiple times per day because they must to avoid breaking the law.

I'm glad police were able to find the culprit in this latest case, and that no one was hurt. Hopefully, this individual with meet with more severe punishment than being placed in a group home; something that will prevent him from doing something like this again for a long, long time.

Tom Casady said...

Your dreaming on the long time, Steve, and it is not my fault. "Choose otherwise"? So his or her reckless "choice" comes within a gnat's eyelash of killing my officer, or forcing him to take the life of a teenager, and that's a "choice?" I call BS on that one, sir. I understand a mistake, but not a choice. If that's your choice, you're an accessory to the felonies--morally and ethically, if not legally.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, so the problem is all about the gun...not people that would steal something that doesn't belong to them...not someone that punches an officer.
Crazy to think that Casady doesn't think the perps wouldn't be dangerous without stealing THIS particular gun.
Wise up, Tom.

Tom Casady said...

7:42,

No, it's not the gun. It's the criminal who stole it, and the nincompoop who made it so easy for him to do so. One of the two is in jail.

sh68137 said...

"and the nincompoop who made it so easy for him to do so. One of the two is in jail." stated Tom
Are we now blaming the victim??
"She was wearing high heels and a short skirt she was ASKING for it." said the rapist.
Yes you sound that stupid.
As for the criminal-- juvenile in possession of handgun, possession of stolen goods, possession of alcohol, possession of ammunition, etc..
And people want to blame the victim??
Please tell me what "new" law will keep this criminal from offending again??
Laws are to penalize the criminal not for the righteous.

Tom Casady said...

7:07,

I'm not suggesting a new law, I'm suggesting that if you leave your pistol in your truck, perhaps you should lock it, so someone does not steal it and put my officers in a life-threatening situation. Too much to ask?

RINGO said...

Interesting article that appeared in USACARRY.com. I tried to cut and paste the entire article but was limited. The full article can be viewed at:

http://www.usacarry.com/guns-stolen-vehicles/

Some of the more alarming points of the article include:

According to this new study, between 300,000 and 600,000 firearms are stolen every year.
Gun theft is a problem. These guns really do end up in the hands of murderers. A 2012 report from the ATF makes clear that “[t]hose that steal firearms commit violent crimes with stolen guns, transfer stolen firearms to others who commit crimes, and create an unregulated secondary market for firearms.”

People generally store their gun in their car when they can’t take it with them into a business or place of employment, and a vehicle is an easy place for a thief to make a snatch-and-grab. The ultimate solution to never having a gun stolen from your vehicle is to not keep it there. And while The Atlantic and The Trace’s solution would be to limit gun ownership, or legislate harsh punishments for gun owners that leave their firearm in the car, the most logical step to curb the theft of firearms from vehicles is to actually allow concealed carry into more establishments.

If it’s on your hip, it’s not in your car.

If you must store your carry weapon in a vehicle be sure to keep it out of sight and locked up, either in the glove compartment or in a small gun safe. There are many many options these days for compact and secure safes. Simply stowing your sidearm under the seat or in an unlocked console just isn’t enough to keep prying hands away after they smash in the window with a tire iron.

While having NRA and Glock stickers on your car may be a good way to show support for gun ownership, it also telegraphs that you may have a gun in your car ripe for the taking. Be mindful about the information someone can glean from simply looking at your vehicle.

An article definitely worth a read.
FYI

Wounded Knee said...

Tom Casady, what is your game plan to stop all the weapons that are stolen from the police cars, including selective fire weapons.

Tom Casady said...

Wounded knee,

????

Steve said...

Tom,

Just so you know, I have no problem with you having your opinion, especially on your own blog. I just happen to have a different opinion regarding the responsibility of gun owners. Unless the law declares it so, I don't think gun owners have any responsibility for securing their firearms, or for that matter, the safety of the public or police officers. There is certainly an argument to be made for ethical, or moral responsibility, but that is based on philosophical concepts, not fact or law. To claim that gun owners who fail to secure their guns are in any way responsible (legally) for crimes committed with those guns is, in my opinion, BS. Where would you draw the line? If I bring my gun inside my home, but don't put it in a gun safe, am I still responsible if it's stolen and used in a crime? What if it is in a gun safe, and it still gets stolen? Your train of thought could easily be taken to the extreme that if I own a gun at all, I am guilty of endangering society, even if my goal is to protect myself and my family, friends, and neighbors, or society in general.

You didn't answer my earlier question (perhaps on your previous post); that is, were these victims of gun theft prosecuted for violating the 24-hour limit on storing guns in unattended vehicles? If not, why not?

Tom Casady said...

Steve,

I've never said a gun owner should be held legally responsible for the theft of his gun. I've just been advocating for some common sense. I, too, can distinguish a moral or ethical obligation from a legal one.

I didn't notice any of these cases resulting in a ticket for storing a firearm for more than 24 hours unattended in a motor vehicle. That's not an easy element to establish, unless the victim tells you that's what he did. Usually, the victim says they parked the car last night and found the gun missing this morning. It is evident to me that some people are just keeping their gun in the vehicle all the time. It may not go 24 hours without the owner being "in attendance," but it's staying in the console or door pocket just like the sunglasses and the garage door opener.

My sense is that officers didn't press this point very much, in order to avoid brow-beating the crime victim into an admission. It's not in the nature of most police officers I know to rub salt in the wound. Without researching each one again, I can't tell you in how many of these there was clear-cut evidence where a citation could have been issued. Even if there were, It's not uncommon for LPD officers to handle misdemeanor violations with no victim with a warning, admonition, or counseling rather than a ticket.

When we were discussing these offenses last week at the monthly ACUDAT meeting, there seemed at first to be a consensus that we should handle such violations more formally going forward, when the evidence supports a citation. During the discussion, however, some concern was expressed that we might be dissuading victims from reporting their gun stolen--which would not be a good result either, were that to happen.

Steve said...

You are almost certainly correct that many people keep their guns permanently in their vehicles, though at least some would probably remove them if they knew they were not going to be "attending" their vehicle for 24 hours or more. I think that might be more out of a sense of "why leave it out there if I'm not going to be going anywhere with it" than a fear of violating the city ordinance, which like you said, would be a pretty tough thing to prove unless someone came right out and admitted it. I also have to wonder just what "unattended" means, anyway. If I look out my window and see that my truck is still in the drive and the windows and doors are still shut, have I attended my vehicle? Do I have to get in it and drive it somewhere?

You may be right about dissuading victims from reporting stolen guns if they feared being prosecuted under this ordinance. However, I'd think that would be preferable to having your stolen gun used in a crime and traced back to the owner who never reported it stolen.

Anonymous said...

Arguably, if gun laws did not prevent conceal carry permit owners from carrying in certain places, there would be no cause for leaving his/her firearm in a vehicle. Just a thought.