Gun owners who carry guns outside their homes, stash them in their cars, or simply own lots of them, are more likely to have their guns stolen, says a new study published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, The Guardian reports. The study, by public health researchers at Harvard and Northeastern universities, is the first to delve into how different characteristics among gun owners can increase their risk of theft. The findings come as several cities have seen sharp jumps in gun theft reports, and as states push to ease rules for carrying guns. Many stolen guns are never recovered, but when they do resurface, it’s often in connection with a crime or in the hands of someone legally barred from possessing one. In February, a man in Leesburg, Fl., was arrested on allegations he shot his wife and daughter with a stolen gun during a family argument. Last month in Sarasota, Fl. five teenagers were charged after a revolver stolen from an apartment days earlier was found on their middle school bus.
People who own guns for protection or had carried a gun on their person in the previous month were more than three times as likely to have experienced a theft in the past five years, the report says. People who owned six or more guns, stored their guns loaded or unlocked, or kept guns in their cars were more than twice as likely to have had their weapons stolen. “There may be something about people wanting easy access to guns that makes them more susceptible to the theft of their guns,” said co-author Deborah Azrael, a researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health.