Ask Your State Legislators to Require Gun Owners to Report Lost or Stolen Guns
This OTYCD post originally appeared in May 2018.
Ask your state legislators to require gun owners to promptly report lost or stolen guns.
It seems ridiculous on its face, but it’s true. More than 36 states do not currently require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns.
It makes sense to require gun owners to formally report losses and thefts. Timely reporting makes it harder for firearms to fall into dangerous hands. It can also help them get their guns back.
The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has comprehensive information on how things are now.
According to the center, the only states that broadly require gun-owning residents to report losses or thefts to local law enforcement authorities are:
The District of Columbia also has this requirement.
A few states have more limited laws.
Michigan specifically requires owners to report thefts, but says nothing about losses.
Maryland requires reporting losses and thefts, but only for handguns and assault weapons, not other types of firearms.
New Jersey is alone in imposing civil liability on owners who fail to report lost or stolen guns that are later used in a crime, and its law focuses on assault weapons only.
If your state is not listed above, or has laws that could be improved, please call or email your state legislators and ask them to write a bill to address this problem.
To find your state legislators, plug your address and zip code into this web site:
Once you have the two names you need, go to the web site for your state legislature and find the contact information for your state senator and state house rep.
Contacting your state house rep and state senator is different from contacting your federal-level reps. Calls and emails are equally effective, and you’re far more likely to get through to the actual elected official, rather than a staffer.
While cautioning that jurisdictions should consult lawyers when approaching this issue, the Giffords center cites several aspects that make for a good common-sense state law regarding lost or stolen firearms:
The owners should be required to raise the alarm as soon as possible once they learn their guns are lost or stolen.
The legal duty to report starts once the owner knew, or should have known, about the loss or the theft.
Those who lost guns or suffered thefts before the law took effect should be given a reasonable deadline for reporting those losses and thefts.
The law on reporting losses and thefts should apply to all firearms, not just assault weapons or handguns.
Owners should face civil liabilities for not reporting the loss or theft of a gun that is later used in a crime.
Requiring owners to report losses and thefts swiftly should be a condition of receiving a state gun license or registration, and failure to report losses and thefts soon after discovery should be enough to justify yanking those permissions.
FWIW, federal law does not require individual gun owners to report–but it does require firearms dealers who suffer thefts or losses from their inventories to speak up. Right now, we at OTYCD feel it best to ask you to focus on getting state-level laws passed to fix this problem.
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See a January 2018 PBS Newshour transcript that notes in passing that 39 states do not require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns (scroll down a little):
A note: We at OTYCD intend to nurture and encourage the movement sparked by the Margory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting by devoting one post at least every other week to gun safety-related issues.
The reason that the NRA has a death grip on Congress, and in particular, GOP Congressfolk, is that NRA members get off their asses and call if there’s a whisper of a muttering of a hint that a law might pass that could impose even the slightest imposition on ownership of guns in America.
That’s what the politicians are afraid of. It’s not just that some of them get metric buttloads of money for their campaigns from the NRA. Those who embrace the NRA’s outlook pounce on their phones and berate their representatives the instant they think their beloved guns are under threat.
So, yes, it’s on us to shout back.
We have to adopt the tactics of those who support the NRA.
We have to call our representatives often to make it damn clear that the status quo is unacceptable, and we want common-sense gun safety laws.
OTYCD will start out with one weekday post every two weeks, at minimum, that has to do with improving gun safety and pushing back against the NRA.
We do this in honor of the Parkland victims, and all victims of mass shootings in America, and everyone who has been fighting to change our laws on firearms all along.
If Trump finally bows to the will of Congress and imposes the sanctions against Russia for messing with the 2016 election, we will switch to devoting one post per week to these issues.
Honor the victims of the Parkland shooting, and all other shootings, by stepping up and calling your reps about common-sense gun safety laws, and by supporting politicians who have low grades from the NRA, and voting out those who do the NRA’s bidding.
#NeverAgain. For the love of all that is right and good, Never Again.
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