Ownership of a firearm comes with great responsibility. Along with this responsibility, there are several things you should be aware of if your firearm is ever stolen or lost. The possibility of someone stealing your firearm unfortunately is real. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there was nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of firearms stolen nationwide from individuals between 2012 and 2015. Gun owners need to take extra care and caution to make sure the firearms they are responsible for do not end up stolen or lost.
What happens if you come home and find your firearms are not in the safe where you left them? Or not in the same place you left it before you went into a pistol-free zone? Here are a few recommendations on what actions you can take to protect yourself when you have misplaced your firearm or been a victim of firearm theft.
This might surprise you, but bathrooms are one of the most popular places that firearms are left unattended in public. Whether the firearm is left on the rail on the interior wall of a stall in a restroom, on a toilet paper dispenser, or on the back of a toilet, you have a responsibility to know where your firearms are and are in control of them, especially when out in public. If you place your firearm down somewhere in public (like a bathroom) and forgot about it and walked away when you go back to retrieve it may be gone. You should immediately contact the police to report it as a missing firearm. If you find yourself in this situation you may have legal consequences that could go along with your firearm being misplaced. It is in your best interest to report this right away even if there are some consequences.
If your firearm is stolen from your home, car, or elsewhere, you could be at risk for a crime that you did not commit with your firearm? It is your responsibility to take the necessary steps if you find yourself in a situation where your firearm is missing or stolen. Imagine what would happen if your firearm were used in a crime or found at a crime scene, and you have not reported it stolen. At the very least you may face some very serious questions from law enforcement, and even potential criminal charges depending on the laws of your State. All because you have chosen not to file a police report about your firearm being stolen.
The best course of action for firearm theft is prevention. If your firearm is left in your car make sure the firearm is stored in a safe spot such as a locked glove box, or a locked container designed for a firearm, and make sure it is not in view of anyone who passes by your parked car. If someone breaks into your car you want to make it as difficult as you can for this person to take your firearm. In your home, make sure you don’t leave firearms out when others come to visit. Be cautious and keep firearms out of the view of your visitors. Should you discover your firearm missing or stolen contact the police department in the area where you believe the firearm was missing or stolen. The police will ask you questions such as when the last time was you saw your gun, what does it look like (any specific identifying features such as a pearl handle, or cosmetic additions to the firearm). If you have a bill of sale or other documents that could identify your firearm you could give that information to the police to help identify the serial number of the firearm. If you have the MYFLP APP you could store your firearm serial numbers and other information in the gun vault portion, this will enable quick access to this important information. Remember if your gun has been stolen you have not committed a crime, but you are the victim of a crime. You should report the theft as soon as possible the same way you would report a break-in of your car or home.
Also, if you read our past blogs about different storage options for your firearm you can learn about the different places to secure your firearm when not using it.