ATLANTA — It’s a problem plaguing most cities across the state and now one Georgia city is introducing a new ordinance to penalize gun owners who leave their weapons in their car, unsecured.
As we reported earlier this week, some 1,200 guns have been stolen from cars in Atlanta this year, and police say those stolen guns get used in other crimes.
“It really creates the beginning of a pipeline for the illegal use of weapons that ultimately get used in crimes,” Georgia state law professor Timothy Lytton said.
The mayor of Savannah says that it’s become such a problem in his city, that he plans on introducing an ordinance to hold gun owners responsible who leave their guns in their car unsecured, the Savannah Morning News reports.
On top of requiring gun owners to lock up their weapons in their vehicles, the ordinance would “require gun owners to report the theft or loss of a firearm within 24 hours of the discovery of the theft or loss,” the newspaper said.
“It is an opportunity to decrease the thefts [and the] illegal firearms. The shootings also, we believe, will decrease as well,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson told the Morning News.
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“According to Savannah Police Department statistics as of Sept. 2, there have been 176 guns stolen out of vehicles ― 82% of those vehicles were unlocked, compared to 28 in 2022, and 22 in 2021. Approximately 90% of the weapons stolen from cars in 2022 and 2021 were taken from unlocked automobiles,” the newspaper reported.
It’s a familiar theme here in the Atlanta metro as well. Gwinnett County police told Channel 2′s Michael Doudna this week that 66% of thefts from cars in their county come from unlocked vehicles.
“From here to date, we’ve had about 266 stolen guns from vehicles alone,” Juan Madiedo from the Gwinnett County Police Department said.
The most recent data shows that on average 14,000 guns are stolen from Georgia residents every year.
“I think this is something all Georgians, whether they are gun advocates or in favor of gun control need to take pretty seriously,” Lytton said.
This is why Atlanta police are asking for your help in their Clean Car Campaign, to make sure your valuables are hidden and not using your car as a gun storage facility.
“Help us help you and secure your firearms in someplace secure and not in a vehicle,” Madiedo said.
Police said to make sure you don’t have valuables in sight, don’t leave backpacks or other things in your car that could make you a potential target, and of course, lock your car.
As for Johnson’s ordinance, the Morning News said that it’s still being written. Once it is, the ordinance will then be put through a legal review before going to the Savannah City Council.
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