NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More guns were stolen from cars in Nashville last year than any other year on record, with over 3,600 firearms reported missing by December.
According to the Metro Nashville Police Department, that number accounted for 70% of all guns stolen in 2022. Police also noted that guns stolen from vehicles are “routinely involved in criminal activities, including carjackings and robberies.”
So far this year, there have already been close to 150 guns stolen from vehicles in Nashville, despite constant reminders from police stressing the importance of securing valuables, locking vehicles and removing keys.
In an interview in Dec. 2022, MNPD Sgt. Catherine Poole told News 2 many criminals are no longer stealing cash and other valuables found in the cars they break into, because they are exclusively looking for firearms.
It’s something that worries Carol Frazier, a Nashville mom of three, and volunteer with Moms Demand Action Tennessee, a grassroots movement organized after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting to advocate for public safety measures and stronger gun laws.
“We have an epidemic of stolen guns in the state of Tennessee and in Nashville specifically,” Frazier said. “We know when guns are stolen from cars, they’re going to be used for crime. They’re going to be used for harm.”
Now, a proposed law would make it a misdemeanor for gun owners to improperly store firearms or ammunition in a car or boat. The law would not apply if the gun was kept from “ordinary observation” and locked in a trunk, glove box or locked container attached to the car or boat.
The bill introduced by Rep. Caleb Hemmer (D-Davidson County) would require people to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police within 24 hours of finding it missing.
A violation would result in a Class C misdemeanor. However, the punishment would not be a fine or jail time. Instead, the law would require offenders to complete a court-approved firearm safety course.
“It’s just kind of a no-brainer,” Frazier said. “It will definitely help because it’s got a punitive wing to it. Of course, that’s after the fact, but it will help, and it will also bring a lot of attention to this issue. So, we are all for this.”
Frazier said unsecured guns are not only a factor in crime, but unintentional deaths of children. Volunteers with Moms Demand Action often visit schools and other community groups to teach about safe gun storage — something she believes “people on both sides” can get behind.
“We are not anti-gun. We’re not anti-Second Amendment,” Frazier said. “I know a lot of people on both sides, gun owners, non-gun owners, Republicans, Democrats, no one thinks this is good. If I’m worried about my grown kids, what about people who are worried about their teenagers in schools?”
Members of Moms Demand Action will be meeting with legislators at the state capitol on March 7 to help push the bill forward. Volunteers who can speak from personal experience also plan to attend upcoming committee meetings and testify in support of the legislation.
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“We’re trying to do our parts in Moms, as well as other gun violence organizations, to bring this to people’s attention so that they start calling their legislators on both sides of the aisle,” Frazier said. “And the thing that’s going to change things is when enough people speak out.”
Hundreds of bills will be up for debate during the 113th General Assembly. Tennessee lawmakers shared their thoughts on some of the major issues up for discussion at this year’s legislative session.
You can also find daily coverage from the session here.