A Gun Is Stolen From A Car Every 9 Minutes In America

Photo: Ivan Zhdanov (Getty Images)
Photo: Ivan Zhdanov (Getty Images)

Stolen guns are a big problem in this country. Once they disappear, they often end up being used in other crimes, and the number of stolen guns has been trending upward for years. If you envision elaborate heists where thieves make off with truckloads of guns taken from a firearms dealer, though, we’re sorry to report that it’s a lot less exciting than that. As the Everytown For Gun Safety Support Fund found in its research, odds are, those guns were just stolen from people’s cars.

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about why you need to stop leaving guns in your cars. Last year, we pointed out that about 40,000 guns were stolen in 2020 alone, and later reported that about 1,000 guns had been stolen in Nashville in 2023, with the vast majority of those taken from parked cars. That said, Everytown’s research goes a lot deeper than previous news reports of stolen guns and paints a truly terrifying picture of just how common gun theft from cars really is in this country.

Analyzing crime data from 337 cities in 44 states that share that information with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Everytown found that in 2022, nearly 112,000 guns were reported stolen in those cities. The actual total is likely higher than that, as only about a third of states in the U.S. require owners to report lost or stolen guns. And while breaking into cars isn’t the only way people steal guns, according to the data, 51 percent of stolen guns are taken from cars. That also works out to about 62,000 stolen guns across all 337 cities.


While, on average, a gun is stolen from a car every nine minutes, and the theft rate is triple what it was as recently as ten years ago, theft rates vary based on where you are. A number of cities in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island reported zero gun thefts from cars in 2022, while in Memphis, more than 3,000 guns were stolen from cars in the same time period. Additionally, the rate of guns stolen from cars in states with the weakest gun laws were about 18 times what they were in the states with the strictest gun laws.

Owners may worry about their guns being stolen out of their cars when they drive into the city or attend a major sporting event, but even in the safety of your own suburb, your unsecured guns are at risk. The research found that cars parked outside of people’s homes are actually the most common source of stolen guns.

What makes this study especially interesting, though, is the fact that the rise in gun thefts from cars doesn’t track with overall thefts from vehicles, either. While guns are stolen out of cars at much higher rates than they were a decade ago, thefts from vehicles in general are down about 11 percent in the same time period. So it’s not that more people are breaking into cars and taking guns they happen to find. Instead, it appears thieves are targeting cars specifically for the guns they may have inside.

That doesn’t mean that gun owners are at the mercy of thieves, though. They can, of course, simply stop leaving guns in their vehicles. If that’s too much to ask, though, plenty of companies sell in-car gun safes. Installing a gun safe is certainly an investment, but unless you’re wasting your money on Hi-Points, so are your guns. Lock them up. Keep them away from thieves. Or just leave them at home. It’s not that hard.

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