Columbia Gun Crimes go up
COLUMBIA - Columbia police say illegal guns have been turning up in the hands of criminals on Columbia streets since this summer.
"Overall, our violent crime has been decreasing, but our gun violence has been increasing," said Joseph Bernhard, the Public Relations Supervisor of Columbia Police Department.
There were 4,662 firearms reported stolen or missing in Missouri, among which 96 percent of the missing guns were stolen, according to the latest data published in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
Columbia police claimed that 54 missing guns were found in Columbia last year.
"We often come across guns and recover guns used in criminal activities that they are not in the database as lost or stolen. And you just don't know where they came from," Bernhard said.
Bernhard said in most cases, if the guns are stolen from a dealer, usually they are taken out of that area pretty quickly and sold in the black markets in other states. Most guns that are stolen out of houses and cars are likely to be used by the person or sold to other people locally.
"Don't leave your firearms in your vehicles. A lot of guns in Columbia are stolen from unlocked vehicles," Bernhard said.
George Hage, a retired Army personnel, is active on online forums about lost and missing guns. He's worried to see shooting crimes going up.
"I have a problem when people have military equipment, military-style equipment, which is not necessary," Hage said. "If you are not in the military, why do you need it?"
Though Hage was trained to shoot, he gave up guns after retirement. He thinks the fundamental solution to gun crimes is to bear no arms.