NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Guns are being stolen from cars at an alarming rate across Tennessee, and Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake outlined just how bad the problem has gotten while urging lawmakers to act.
In a letter sent out Tuesday, Drake showed the stark increase in guns stolen out of vehicles each year, which reached a record 1,378 guns in 2022. Back in 2019, 848 were stolen from cars.
“Tennessee has a uniquely bad problem of guns stolen in cars,” said Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Nashville).
Drake cited a 9mm handgun used to rob and kill Belmont graduate and musician Kyle Yorlets, a Glock used in a shootout in West Nashville and another 9mm used in a summer shooting that injured four people. All were guns that had been stolen from vehicles.
Hemmer hopes to cut down on these crimes as sponsor of HB 1233.
“We are, unfortunately, No. 1 in the whole United States, per capita, according to the latest FBI statistics of guns being stolen in cars and these are actually going directly in the hands of criminals,” Hemmer said.
Last year, Nashville saw a record 1,378 guns stolen from cars. Hemmer’s bill would require gun owners to secure weapons kept in a car or on a boat in a locked glove box, trunk or container. Tennesseans would also have to report any missing guns within 24 hours.
“We’re trying to ensure personal responsibility, gun safety, and the goal of our legislation is to really help people think about being smart with their guns and locking them up,” Hemmer said.
If passed, and gun owners fail to comply, they could be charged with a misdemeanor. Instead of getting fined; however, they would be assigned firearm safety training.
Hemmer said his legislation addresses “unintended consequences” that have come from laws enacted nearly a decade ago, allowing Tennesseans to store guns in their cars.
“I’m a gun owner, a hunter, an outdoorsman, but this really is about personal responsibility,” Hemmer said. “And helping people think about the unintended consequence that can happen when they leave their guns unsecured.”