SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — According to Savannah Police, 169 guns have been stolen from vehicles this year and 130 of those were taken from unlocked vehicles.
“It’s not just exclusive to Savannah, this is a nationwide issue, regarding the number of weapons that are being stolen out of vehicles and unfortunately a lot of these weapons are being stolen out of unlocked vehicles,” says Chief Roy Minter of the Savannah Police Department.
Savannah has seen a spike in gun violence. Over the weekend multiple shootings took place, including one involving a 12-year-old and a 14-year old. The gun involved in that incident was reported stolen in November.
“The message that we’re sending to people is be a responsible gun owner,” Chief Minter said.
According to data from the gun safety advocacy nonprofit, Everytown, more than 5 million children in the US live in a household with at least one loaded or unlocked firearm.
Everytown reports that accidental deaths by children handling a gun jumped 31% at the start of the pandemic.
“One of the things I think we really want to stress is safety with children and guns and some of that involves gun storage, that you keep your firearm stored properly, especially out of the reach of unauthorized people, particularly kids,” says Dick Berman, the owner of Thunderbolt Guns and a member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearm Instructors.
He discussed how to safely store a firearm at home saying, “These should be stored securely, which means under some kind of lock system, gun locks or a gun safe, unloaded and separate from ammunition.”
According to data, accidental shootings involving children happen almost everyday in the US.
But many of these incidents are preventable, experts say, with proper precautions.
“Know where your weapon is, make sure your weapon is safe and secure at all times, keep your weapon away from individuals who should not have access to that weapon, or have no training on how to use that weapon,” Chief Minter said.
Chief Minter wants to remind the public that the Savannah Police Department provides gunlocks for free. They are available at the Savannah Police Headquarters and all precincts.