What others say: Right to gun ownership comes with responsibility to keep guns off the street

  • Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:48pm
  • Opinion

Alaska State Troopers reported a disturbing crime on Wednesday when it was announced that 15 firearms had been stolen from a home in Willow. What makes this crime frightening is that it means there are 15 more guns now in the hands of criminals in our area.

Amidst all the talk about guns and gun violence lately, there hasn’t been much said about the prevalence of stolen guns in our society. However, the above report isn’t unusual because it details a gun theft, only because of the number of guns taken at once.

In fact, gun theft is a relatively common occurrence here in the Valley. Anyone who is even a casual reader of our Police Beat section knows this. Guns are taken from homes, unlocked cars, locked cars, storage units — you name it, we’ve heard of a gun being taken from it.

These guns are often used to commit more crimes, increasing the overall level of violence and adding fuel to the arguments of those who argue stricter laws are needed.

If defenders of the Second Amendment want to help reduce gun crime in this country, keeping a better handle on their guns seems like a good place to start. Gun owners need to be more forceful about demanding their fellow armed citizens practice common sense safety measures at all times.

We’re not arguing that all thefts can be avoided, or that careless victims of gun theft are always to blame. But there’s no doubt that a large measure of these thefts could be prevented with a little foresight.

Failing to keep guns in a locked safe at home — especially with children in the house — is a recipe for disaster. Leaving your gun in an unlocked vehicle is asking for trouble. Forgetting your purse at the grocery store with a handgun inside is downright reckless.

All of these things have happened, and they’ll continue to happen as long as a certain percentage of gun owners keep acting like firearms are no more dangerous to leave lying around than overdue library books.

Not everyone is so blasé about their guns. In fact, most gun owners are extremely careful that their guns never fall into anyone’s hands but their own. But every time a gun is taken from an unlocked car or disappears from someone’s gym bag, it gives all gun owners a bad name and increases the chance of more gun violence in the future — neither of which helps the cause of responsible gun owners.

No amount of gun laws will prevent thieves from stealing guns and using them to commit other crimes. However, better accountability on the part of those who own firearms can do much to keep these guns off the streets and out of the hands of those who intend to do more harm to our community.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms in this country. But gun ownership is not just right, it’s a responsibility — one that needs to be taken more seriously by those who choose to bear arms in the Mat-Su.

— Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Jan. 8

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