NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the number of stolen guns soars in Nashville, the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) said urgent requests to firearm owners are not enough and is asking lawmakers for help. This comes as the efforts to criminalize loose gun storage are put on hold.
“Despite these ongoing requests for enhanced personal responsibility, the number of guns stolen from vehicles has only increased in Nashville,” said Metro Police Chief John Drake in a March 2023 letter to the chairman of the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
Numbers from MNPD show the majority of stolen firearms all come from the same place: vehicles.
📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts →
An estimated 77% of guns stolen so far this year, that’s 349 of 452, were taken from vehicles. In the second week of April alone, 19 guns were taken from vehicles.
Drake said the police department’s efforts include a weekly social media campaign pointing to the number of guns stolen that week and the running tally year to date. Plus, regular reporting of stolen firearm numbers by Nashville media outlets and signage across the city, urging drivers to secure guns in vehicles.
Now, the department is asking for legislation to help hold gun criminals accountable.
“I am asking for your help on the front end,” Drake said in his letter. “I am asking for the assistance of our legislature to, in its wisdom, help us to convince/deter lawful gun owners from leaving firearms unsecured in unattended vehicles.”
The GOP said they want to work on the bill Drake referenced, Bill 1233. In addition to making it an offense to leave unlocked firearms in unsecured vehicles, it also requires the loss or theft to be reported within 24 hours.
A bill introduced later in the session, Bill 1588, has a similar goal and sets a $500 fine for leaving unlocked guns or ammunition in plain sight within a vehicle when the owner isn’t there.
While the legislative session wrapped on Friday, Gov. Bill Lee announced that he will call for the Tennessee General Assembly to meet in a special session to pass legislation that he said will strengthen public safety and preserve constitutional rights.
“After much input from members of the General Assembly and discussions with legislative leadership, we have decided to call a special session to continue our work to protect Tennessee communities and preserve constitutional rights,” said Lee in a statement. “There is broad agreement that dangerous, unstable individuals who intend to harm themselves or others should not have access to weapons. We also share a strong commitment to preserving Second Amendment rights, ensuring due process and addressing the heart of the problem with strengthened mental health resources. I look forward to continued partnership with the General Assembly as we pursue thoughtful, practical solutions to keep Tennesseans safe.”