Stopping the epidemic of guns stolen from unlocked cars in Tampa Bay begins with responsibility

Life as we blow it: Aiming for accountability

click to enlarge Stopping the epidemic of guns stolen from unlocked cars in Tampa Bay begins with responsibility

Look, I don’t care if someone habitually leaves their car unlocked, and considers the occasional loss of some change and a car charger a fair price to pay for getting to pretend they live across the street from the park with the gazebo in 1950s Anytown, USA, and not in an area whose epidemic of car burglaries has been covered in the news pretty much on a weekly basis. For years.

If I did care, I’d think it raises some interesting questions about someone’s cognitive faculties. (Wouldn’t having your stuff stolen just serve to remind you that you don’t live in 1950s Anytown, USA?) But I don’t. It’s their stuff.

Guns, however, are not stuff.

That they’re regulated, however unevenly (here in Florida, it’s harder to get good allergy meds), automatically makes them more than stuff. And the endless debate over the quality and comprehensiveness of that regulation speaks clearly to the uneasiness many Americans feel about them. 

Guns are weapons — the deadliest a person can acquire through legal means. And sure, if you wanna get all Ron Swanson about it, anything can be a weapon, including whatever else an inattentive person might leave in an unlocked car. Not anyone can kill multiple people with a set of earbuds and a bag of Taco Bell wrappers, however. Not anyone is Ron Swanson. Literally anyone with a hand can use a gun to alter or end the life of anyone, or several anyones, in a matter of seconds.

Leaving stuff in an unlocked car is just kind of careless; leaving a gun in an unlocked car is irresponsible to the point of negligence.

So why are unsecured guns constantly stolen out of unlocked cars?

Because there’s a powerful political influence with a vested interest in people thinking of guns as stuff. As just another item in the inventory of what we carry every day. As no different than any of the other crap we throw into our cars with us in the morning out of habit, or because we think we might need it. And millions of Americans already think of their guns that way.

The Great State of Florida doesn’t require citizens to report the theft of a gun — why should you be compelled to report the loss of just another thing that you had? It also through state law actively prohibits the keeping of any list of privately owned guns, or gun owners — whose business is it if you’ve got one more thing among your stuff?

And what’s the first thing someone who already thinks owning and carrying a gun is necessary is gonna do if their gun is stolen? Buy another gun (probably without considering the irony of suddenly thinking of a gun as more than “stuff” the moment they find themselves without one).

In an excellent Nov. 2017 Tampa Bay Times report on Florida’s stolen-gun epidemic, “Unlocked and Loaded,” an attorney for the nonprofit gun rights organization Florida Carry is quoted lamenting that owners were treated “as anything other than the victims they are when the property is stolen.” According to the piece, he equated a stolen gun to a stolen laptop, and its own potential for crime commission.

In other words, a gun is just more stuff.

I’m all for responsible gun ownership. But responsible gun ownership includes never forgetting that guns aren’t just stuff.

Or at the very least, it includes remembering to lock your car doors. 

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