TribLIVE

| Opinion/The Review

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Find ways to keep from losing your guns

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Handguns apparently are as difficult to keep track of as house keys.

You know those aggravating moments when you're scratching your head wondering where the keys went? A lot of Pennsylvania firearms dealers frequently experience similar frustration, except that they misplace Glocks and Smith & Wessons.

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report released on Monday revealed the Keystone State led the nation last year in the number of firearms reported lost or stolen from federal firearms licensees. The 1,502 firearms that turned up missing represent an impressive 9 percent of the 16,667 that vanished nationwide from those licensed to manufacture, import or deal firearms.

Of the 1,502 that disappeared here from licensees, the vast majority — 1,311 — were reported lost.

What conclusion can be drawn from that statistic? Probably that the people charged with responsibly distributing guns across the state are an unusually absentminded bunch that probably is prone to forgetting important family birthdays.

Overall, 190,000 firearms were reported lost or stolen by gun vendors and individuals across the country. The bureau is using that figure to add velocity to the brushback pitch it is throwing to the firearms industry by absurdly attempting to link guns to crime and violence.

What the bureau fails to note, of course, is that guns themselves are just clunky lumps of hardware.

To become dangerous, a gun has to be retrofitted with ammunition, a time-consuming and technically challenging exercise that few criminals can master. The gun's safety needs to be off. Even then, the only chance people have of being harmed is if they happen to be standing in a bullet's path when the trigger is pulled. If you follow the news at all, you're aware that an alignment of such circumstances is extremely rare.

Still, lessons can be learned from the bureau's findings.

I know we've all spent nights searching for our Walther P22 that we were certain we left in its customary spot in a living room candy dish, only to chuckle in amusement hours later when we find it in the baby's bassinet. But lest gun dealers and manufacturers appear careless to the anti-gun crowd, they should take steps to secure their inventory and perform better searches for lost firearms.

How can that be accomplished? Several suggestions follow:

• When looking for missing weapons, don't begin with places they are unlikely to be, such as the oven or shower.

• Try to recall the last time the missing handgun or shotgun was seen. Could it mistakenly have been left on the bus or under a seat at McDonald's along with an umbrella?

• Clean the area where the weapons usually are kept. Piles of dirty laundry can obscure even a medium-sized display case.

• Just as what commonly occurs with house keys, don't rule out the missing guns turning up where they should have been all along. Check the candy dish.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7857 or eheyl@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
  2. Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
  3. Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
  4. McCutchen, Pirates cruise to interleague victory over Twins
  5. NFL notebook: Redskins re-sign star linebacker Kerrigan
  6. Steelers’ Bell unsure why NFL reduced his suspension
  7. Beaver County widow won’t lose home over $6.30 late fee
  8. Drone to help Northern Regional police zone in on missing, fleeing people
  9. Pirates notebook: Melancon bails out Watson with extended outing
  10. Vallozzi’s Pittsburgh transfers great fare it’s been known for in the Pittsburgh region to the Steel City
  11. Cruz switches targets, takes exception with IRS practices