Kansas City has experienced an unprecedented and alarming rash of gun thefts citywide, the Kansas City Star reports. The number of annual firearms thefts rose from 496 to 588 between 2008 and 2015, but it exploded last year. Thieves stole 804 a year ago, a 37 percent increase. And they are on pace to steal some 830 firearms in 2017. Many gun owners are making it easy for criminals to propel Kansas City’s harrowing gun violence. They are stowing their guns carelessly in cars, not securing them in locked boxes, and failing to record serial numbers to help law enforcement if they are stolen. “It comes down to personal responsibility,” said Mark Jones of Chicago, a retired agent of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives. “All guns start life as a legal commodity,” he said. But when gun owners fail to protect their weapons, criminals take them “into the underground market.”
Gun thieves know there are eager buyers for illegal guns who, because they can’t get them legally, will readily pay a hefty cash price on the street, said Don Pind, a Kansas City firearms training consultant. “You can get $300 for anything that goes bang,” he said. A 2016 study by the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health determined that in violent crimes where guns were recovered, the perpetrator carried a gun owned by someone else 8 out of 10 times. “Those guns stay on the streets,” said Kansas City police spokeswoman Capt. Stacey Graves. “They bring violence on our community.” At some point police may recover a stolen gun, but by then odds are “it has changed hands many times” and been involved in multiple crimes.