June 13, 2024

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Savannah Mayor Determined to Hold Negligent Gun Owners Responsible

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Approximately 1,200 guns have been stolen from cars just in Atlanta this year alone — cops say many of those stolen guns get used in violent crimes such as armed robbery and murder


Written by Investigative Reporter Brooklyn Lassiter 

As I suspected before I began this investigation, this problem is an issue in virtually every city across the state, and, I suspect, in many others across America as well. But here in Georgia, the problem is getting so far out of hand, that one city mayor, Savannah’s Van Johnson, has thrown down the gauntlet and decided enough is enough.

Johnson has determined that one of the biggest, if not the biggest determining factor in vehicle weapon thefts, is the unwillingness of vehicle and ostensibly weapon owners to properly secure their weapons rather than leaving them in their vehicles, often in plain sight of any passersby.

“It creates the beginning of a pipeline for the illegal use of weapons that ultimately get used in crimes,” Georgia state law professor Timothy Lytton said.

Johnson believes that the carelessness of gun owners to properly secure their weapons has become so common, that he intends to introduce and champion legislation that would hold careless weapon owners accountable for their cavalier attitudes.

On top of requiring gun owners to lock up their weapons in their vehicles, the ordinance would “require gun owners to report the theft or loss of a firearm within 24 hours of the discovery of the theft or loss.”

“It is an opportunity to decrease the thefts, and, by proxy, the number of illegal firearms floating around on our streets. The shootings also, we believe, will decrease as well,” Savannah Mayor Van Johson said, in a recent press release.

“According to Savannah Police Department statistics as of Sept. 2, there have been 176 guns stolen out of vehicles ― 82% of those vehicles were unlocked, compared to 28 in 2022, and 22 in 2021. Approximately 90% of the weapons stolen from cars in 2022 and 2021 were taken from unlocked automobiles,” Johnson stated.

It’s a very similar story in the Atlanta metro area as well. When asked about their statistics regarding this issue, a spokesperson for the Gwinnett County Police Department said that 66% of thefts from cars in their county come from unlocked vehicles.

“From here to date, we’ve had about 266 stolen guns from vehicles alone,” Juan Madiedo from the Gwinnett County Police Department said.

The most recent data shows that, on average, about 14,000 guns are stolen from Georgia residents every year.

“I think this is something all Georgians, whether they are gun advocates or in favor of gun control need to take pretty seriously,” Lytton said.

This is why Atlanta police are asking for your help in their Clean Car Campaign, to make sure your valuables are hidden and not using your car as a gun storage facility.

“Help us help you and secure your firearms in someplace secure and not in a vehicle,” Madiedo said.

Police said to make sure you don’t have valuables in sight, don’t leave backpacks or other things in your car that could make you a potential target, and of course, lock your car.

As for Johnson’s ordinance, the final bill is still being written. Once the legislation is complete, the ordinance will then be put through a legal review before going to the Savannah City Council, which ultimately has the power to make it a reality or not.

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