Studies tell us that handguns are the weapon of choice for violent crimes. But what we don’t talk about enough is that a huge number of the handguns used to commit crimes are lost or stolen. 

It’s astonishing to me that people don’t realize that gun owners, including law enforcement, and responsible gun owner, regularly lose guns. 

Very few people understand the impact that lost and stolen handguns have on public safety. Let’s take a closer look at how many murders are committed with stolen or lost handguns, and what can be done to address the issue.

Tracking Lost and Stolen Handguns

Before I start, just know that we’re missing a lot of numbers.

  • Over 25 states now have Constitutional Carry laws, which means that they aren’t tracking handgun data. And many people don’t report losses or thefts.
  • We know that there are at least 150 million handguns in circulation in the US. And from 500K-700K guns are reported lost and stolen a year.  
  • At least 15% of those lost or stolen guns — we’re looking at up to about 380,000—are used by criminals to commit crimes.
  • The impact of lost or stolen firearms on public safety can be avoided if responsible gun owners practice safe storage practices.

What happens to Lost and Stolen Handguns?

In Tacoma, Washington, a gun is stolen every 48 hours.  In Kentucky, where 17 guns are stolen every day, the Louisville Courier Journal newspaper recently published a 3-part series by Jonathan Bullington. Bullington spent a year tracing 1000-gun deaths back to the guns used. Each and every one of those “carried by children”, clutched by suicidal men or tied to crimes such as robberies, drug deals and murders were committed with a previously lost or stolen handguns. 

Getting the Government Involved

One way of addressing the issue of lost or stolen guns is through the mandatory reporting of missing firearms. Currently, the Federal Government as well as many states don’t have such laws in place, so it becomes difficult to even know when guns have been lost or stolen. If these laws were to be enacted, law enforcement would be able to be aware, but most likely not be able to retrieve those guns once out of the owner’s possession.

Practicing Responsible Gun Ownership

We can also address the problem of lost or stolen firearms by practicing responsible gun ownership. It’s critical that gun owners take necessary measures to securely store their firearms in a gun safe, cabinet, or locker with secure locks. Or using a Gun LeashTM which is a new patented gun safety device that connects to your carried handgun and keeps you from losing or having your gun stolen. 

Gun Leash Connects almost invisibly to your handgun and alerts you if your gun leaves your side. 

Proper safeguards keep weapons safe.

The impact of lost or stolen firearms on public safety cannot be overstated. The huge number of guns acquired through theft or loss contributes significantly to the number of crimes committed each year. As responsible citizens, it’s our duty to be aware of the impact that lost or stolen firearms can have on our communities, and we must work together to address this issue. 

Safeguarding our firearms from theft, implementing mandatory reporting of missing firearms, and supporting public awareness campaigns about the importance of Responsible Gun ownership are just a few of the ways we can make America safer for everyone.