Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stolen guns are a problem

I meant to write this post quite a while ago but then got distracted by so many mass shootings and other issues. My post from yesterday was about a group of people in Florida who purported to use guns at the polling places to take care of perceive fraudulent voters. It was a scary idea and it turns out it was a hoax, thank goodness. Perhaps there will be more on this soon. Suffice it to say, however, that nothing should surprise us in our current poisonous political atmosphere. We have actually seen people with guns at tea party rallies, at political speeches and at pro gun open carry rallies. We have free and fair elections in the United States of America. There are attempts to change that, as I wrote about yesterday. This is a dangerous trend coming from the far right and any attempts to control our election process should be scuttled quickly. That is what the judicial system is doing, for the most part, in many states where legislatures are trying to disenfranchise voters. See Texas, Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin. Guns do not belong in our election process. The only reason to bring a gun to a political rally or a polling place is to intimidate people. That is not the way we do things in our country. That is what is seen in other third world or undemocratic countries. Stealing elections would be the worst possible outcome of our electoral system and blatant attempts to do so are mostly being overturned.

But here is a topic that is not talked about often enough- lost and stolen guns. This one is no hoax. A startling video shows us where some of the guns used in crime and shootings of innocent people come from. I'll let you check this one out before I make my points. You can see the video of a young man driving a car around in Vancouver, Washington in residential neighborhoods shooting at least once out of the car window while someone in the car is making a video of him. In the car is a pistol and an assault rifle. Listen and read the reporter saying just where this guy got his guns.
"Vancouver police arrested Wynn in July after he crashed a vehicle reported stolen. The weapons in the video may be the pistol and assault rifle that Wynn is accused of stealing from his uncle."
It is commonly known that stolen guns account for a number of crime guns and crimes:
The report goes on to state that "over-the-counter purchases are not the only means by which guns reach the illegal market from FFLs" and reveals that 23,775 guns have been reported lost, missing or stolen from FFLs since September 13, 1994, when a new law took effect requiring dealers to report gun thefts within 48 hours. This makes the theft of 6,000 guns reported in the CIR/Frontline show "Hot Guns" only 25% of all cases reported to ATF in the past two and one-half years.
That is why it is so important for gun owners to safely store their guns. Not only does that practice keep guns away from children and teens who shouldn't be able to get their hands on guns, but it keeps criminals from stealing the guns. That seems like a pretty non-controversial idea, right? But, of course, the NRA is against any laws that would require the reporting of stolen guns. Because, er um, because...... ( and while you are at it, please read, in the above linked article, where most crime guns come from- licensed dealers, unlicensed dealers and straw purchasing)

Does anyone remember the DC Sniper shootings? Does anyone remember that the guns used in that awful spree shooting came from a gun dealer in Tacoma, Washington- Bulls Eye Shooting Supply. Does anyone remember why the guns came from that dealer? See article above. Let's review for a minute. So, because of an irresponsible and illegal gun dealer, 10 innocent people died in 2002 in the Washington D.C. area and 3 were injured. And now, it is learned that some of the guns used by Ian Stawicki, Seattle mass shooter, also came from that dealer. This time, however, they were not stolen. But I digress.

Here is yet another example of the danger of stolen guns. Kids, felons and others know that guns can be taken from homes of people with guns where they are often not stored. This 13 year boy got caught almost with his pants down and a stolen gun:
The police report said the boy appeared to be hiding something in his waistband and tried giving the gun to another person. That is when the gun dropped and fired a single shot.
No one was injured in the incident.
Police have charged the 13 year-old with carrying a concealed firearm, grand theft and illegal possession of a firearm by a juvenile.
Good grief. We are talking about a 13 year old boy here. Carrying a concealed firearm? Grand theft? Where did he get the gun? It was a stolen gun. Did he steal it or did an adult in his life steal it? Why was a 13 year old carrying a gun around in public? What are we all about in America anyway? Where is common senseWe are better than this. But many school shooters get their guns by stealing from their own relatives. That is a major concern. Safe storage of guns is of the utmost importance when children and teens are living at home. Children know where guns are. Just read the Kid Shootings blog for evidence.

Some states have passed laws to require gun owners to report lost and stolen guns. This report offers more information:
The public overwhelmingly supports laws requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms. A nationwide poll in 2011 found that 94% of Americans surveyed, including 94% of gun owners, favor laws to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.
Not doing anything about lost and stolen guns is not an option. Let's get to work and do something about this in the name of public health and safety. Lives depend on it.


  1. An important detail to note: Requiring the reporting of lost/stolen guns isn't just a means of keeping track of dangerous weapons and returning them to gun owners if found. Rather, it is a means of fighting illegal gun sales by illicit gun traffickers. Currently, if a gun is traced back to the gun trafficker, all they have to say is it was stolen or lost and they are off the hook. This forces them to be honest. States and municipalities that have done so have seen a dramatic drop in illegal gun sales and the movement of these gun traffickers out of the area. If we did this nationwide, it would be a serious impediment to illegal gun sales.

  2. Another example, the 15 year old who shot a classmate on the first day of school got the weapon from his father; who knows which parent was the source of the vodka.

    One of the reasons that the NRA and some of the pro-gunners commenting here don't want background checks on private transactions is that it means that guns used in crimes will be traced back to them, or that they will have to be more on the up and up about reporting stolen guns or lost guns.

    In other words, the rest of the world will find out just how sloppy and careless and reckless they are, how poorly they really do secure their firearms and some of those friends and relatives who are not so squeaky clean (they all have to be related to somebody) will turn up as well.

    Without that they can try to claim plausible deniability. I think fewer and fewer people are buying deniability any more, but that is a separate subject.

    It means they will have to be more law abiding than many of them reall are, but should be.

  3. dog gone writes One of the reasons that the NRA and some of the pro-gunners commenting here don't want background checks on private transactions is that it means that guns used in crimes will be traced back to them...

    This explanation is incomplete. First, the NRA doesn't support or condone illegal activity. Second, it's been my experience that the primary reason why responsible gun owners don't want background checks on private transfers is because they don't want the government involved in their personal affairs. They, and many non-gun owners I know, believe the government doesn't represent them and that the government is capable of making some very serious mistakes, so the more invisible one is to the government the better things are. So yes, in this context, talking to an officer about anything is something to be avoided.

    As for me, I've always bought new guns specifically because I want to know that I'm getting a clean gun without a history. Having a gun stolen from me is of paramount concern to me, so I've always taken multiple precautions to minimize theft including safe storage. Also, since there are so many form 4473s out there with my name, I've always been prepared to report a stolen gun including keeping serial numbers of my guns with me in a secure iPhone database.

    However, I also resent laws that require me to report a stolen gun because I view those laws as a means to punish gun-owners. Given that a gun's serial numbers can be easily removed, and subsequently easily identified as illegal when confiscated, I don't understand how requiring the reporting of stolen guns increases public safety.

    1. Yes Migo, we know that you guys don't want the government anywhere near you. Do you suppose these are the same people who want to decide what a woman's health care choices are? Hmmm. Government is great when you want it to interfere with some things but not others. That is a conundrum for you all. As I recall, a woman's right to choose is a constitutional right and yet you all keep wanting to not only interfere with it but to repeal it and stop it. That is a problem for you all. In the case of guns, government wants to keep us all safe. That is the job of government- public safety. You still have not articulated how any of this will interfere with your rights to own guns. That's because what I have suggested won't do that. I'm pretty sure you know that but you can't admit it. And if you truly believe that you are very mistaken and have been listening to the wrong people.

  4. While stolen guns are a problem, I have a few related questions:

    1. When speaking of stolen guns used in later crimes, how many of those guns were stolen from police / LEO agencies / military (as opposed to private citizens)?

    2. Why would we want to punish the initial victim of the crime (the person whose gun was stolen)? Seems akin to outlawing cars because they can be stolen and used in future crime as well.

    3. What about guns that our government illegally gives to illegal drug cartels that later use those guns to commit crimes against American citizens? Should this count the same as a stolen gun being used in a subsequent crime?

    1. #1- I don't know. Do you? If so, please send me an answer with a link.

      #2- why would it be punishing someone if they reported a gun "lost" or stolen and then it shows up later. If they do the right thing and report it, then law enforcement knows that the gun was stolen and the gun owner is not responsible for a later crime committed. They, of course, should make sure the gun was safely stored. If not, then perhaps they should be held to be irresponsible with their loaded guns in the home or car.

      #3- What's your proof for that assertion?

    2. #1 - I do not know. I am genuinely curious. My guess would be that more guns are stolen from private individuals, but not that many more.

      #2 - It is punishing someone to take his/her gun away (as would happen with any sort of gun ban) because someone else broke the law. Remember - people commit crimes, not objects.

      #3 - My proof is simple Google search and a plethora of media outlets (including most leftist media outlets) reports on the issue:
      Project Gunrunner - Operation Wide Receiver
      Operation Fast and Furious (most notably)
      Hernandez case & Medrano case.

    3. Weak, Usagi. If you don't know the answer to the first question, why did you ask me? Who said anything about punishing you because someone else broke the law? That is your paranoia speaking. 3rd- provide me with links to the actual articles please. That is what I do on my blog.

  5. Gun owners should be held totally accountable for their property. They should be required to store their guns properly so as to make theft less likely. How often have we heard one of the gun guys complain about blaming the victim when he aided and abetted in the theft by failing to secure his gun properly. In those cases he should be blamed, along with the thief, of course, but each should be responsible for his own irresponsible behavior.

  6. joan writes Do you suppose these are the same people who want to decide what a woman's health care choices are? ... yet you all keep wanting to not only interfere with it but to repeal it and stop it.

    Careful with those assumptions. I understand there are hypocrites out there, but I've always supported abortion. I have a graduate degree with a strong science background, so I make decisions based on science, not religion. I don't support pharmacists denying prescriptions based on personal beliefs or opinions, and I also supported Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. The atheists in my life own guns while the spiritual people in my life don't. This is why many I know believe the government doesn't represent them and don't want the government in their lives.

    joan writes why would it be punishing someone if they reported a gun "lost" or stolen and ... then perhaps they should be held to be irresponsible with their loaded guns in the home or car.

    You've answered your own question. I don't believe someone should be held [ir]responsible if a loaded gun was stolen from a locked home or vehicle. A personal defense gun must be kept in an operable and accessible state, otherwise it can't be used for personal defense.

    mikeb writes They should be required to store their guns properly so as to make theft less likely.

    As long as a locked home, car, or any other structure that requires illegal action to access is considered proper storage, then I agree.

    I certainly don't want any of my guns to be used in a crime, so I take extra security measures when I can. Therefore, I'm not too worried about reporting a stolen gun, if that should ever happen, which I'm required to do by law anyway. I'll keep an open mind on such laws if curbing illegal trafficking is the reason behind such laws, instead of punishing gun owners.