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Gun Thefts Track Sales Increases, Fueling Violence

Record gun sales over the past couple of years have led to significant increases in gun thefts, one factor in the nation's homicide surge, the Wall Street Journal reports. The number of stolen guns reported to police in 10 major U.S. cities rose by 29 percent over the past two years, according to data compiled by the Journal. Earlier this month a stolen handgun was found at the scene of a Sacramento gang shooting in which six people died and 12 more were injured.

Police believe the rise in thefts stem from large numbers of first-time gun owners. Guns often get stolen from cars, a sign of irresponsible gun handling. Once people buy a gun, "they just kind of forget about it," said Martin Devine, of the Pittsburgh police department's narcotics and vice unit. Criminologists have found a link between the number of stolen weapons and the number of firearm homicides in a city, said Daniel Semenza, a Rutgers University researcher who has studied the topic. Some police departments have launched campaigns urging gun owners to secure their weapons and remove them from unoccupied cars. "If you do have a firearm, have a safe or cable lock where it is secured and cannot be removed," said Tommy Widener, a police commander in Nashville, where gun thefts rose 25 percent last year. FBI data show reports of lost and stolen guns rose 6 percent in 2020 and dipped 2 percent last year. But those figures are not considered complete, because not all police agencies report their data.


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