Memphis/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 10, 2024
Memphis Tops National List in Gun Thefts from Vehicles Amid Rising Trend, Affecting Local EventsSource: Augustas Didžgalvis, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Memphis is grappling with a dubious distinction as a recent report places the city at the forefront of an alarming trend: the theft of firearms from vehicles. Citing FBI data, a WREG report indicates this Tennessee city leads the nation in gun thefts from cars, with a staggering count of over 3,000 such incidents in 2022 alone.

The problem is not just a local concern, as the gun safety group Everytown for Gun Safety's analysis reveals that the rate of guns stolen from vehicles has shot up across the country. In their study, published Monday, an estimated 77,000 guns were swiped from cars in cities nationwide in 2020 and Memphis’ problem is just a reflection of a broader issue that clocks a gun stolen from a car every nine minutes on average in 2022, even though other property thefts from vehicles are on the decline, this is affecting not just statistics but imminent danger as many of these firearms have been traced back to violent crimes.

Conference attendees in Memphis faced the harsh reality of this challenge firsthand. After at least five participants of the National Hardwood Lumber Summit discovered they had been victimized by car break-ins, concerns grew that the city's reputation could impact tourism and event planning. According to WREG, with conference leader Dalin Brooks, the intention to choose a "safer neighborhood" backfired, further fueling worries about Memphis' ability to attract future gatherings.

Everytown's findings, which point to a more than 200% increase in gun thefts from cars over the last 10 years, have not gone unnoticed by lawmakers and community leaders. In Savannah, Georgia, for example, a new ordinance requires firearms left in vehicles to be securely stored. Nonetheless, it has met resistance from the state's attorney general. Meanwhile, West Virginia has gone the opposite direction by legalizing the carriage of loaded firearms in vehicles last month as reported by The Hill.

The viral spread of these stolen firearms from parked cars to crime scenes calls for greater preventive measures, as stressed by Steve Dettelbach, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In an alarming conjecture, he points out that these weapons "are going to violent people who can’t pass a background check," according to Local Memphis. As the narrative of stolen guns fueling violent crime continues to unfold, it becomes clear that the acquiescence to a loaded, unattended gun in the backseat, is a reluctant invitation to tragedy.