5 Tips to Prevent Gun Theft

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on December 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If you're a gun owner, preventing gun theft should be a high priority so you can keep your community safe.

As more facts about the Portland-area mall shooting come to light, investigators now believe that shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts stole the rifle he used from a friend. Not only does that friend have to live with the tragic consequences of his rifle being stolen, but depending on how he stored the firearm he could end up being the target of a civil lawsuit as well.

That's right: You can potentially be held liable for injuries caused by your gun if it's stolen. So here are some tips to prevent gun theft and keep your name clear.

  1. Lock it up. In many states, gun owners who don't appropriately secure their guns can be liable if someone takes the gun and causes injury. Get a gun safe or other locked cabinet to store your guns when you aren't using them.

  2. Keep the keys hidden. There's no point in locking up your gun if you leave the keys next to the safe. Don't let others know where the key is unless it's an emergency. If you give the information to a "friend" who later uses the gun in a crime, you could run into some legal problems.

  3. Don't lend it out. Loaning your gun to a friend means you're going to be liable if that friend has poor judgment and there's an accident involving the firearm. Better to seem overprotective and not lend your gun to anyone than to have to tell a friend you think he's irresponsible.

  4. Report theft immediately. As soon as you know a gun is missing, report it to police. That way you have some proof that you tried to get the gun back before something went wrong and that you didn't give your consent for a friend to take it.

  5. Store bullets separately. It may seem like a small measure, but storing your gun without ammunition means thieves won't luck into a loaded weapon. The extra step of having to buy ammo may prevent a more violent crime. Even if it doesn't, then at least you won't lose the gun and the bullets.

More questions about guns and gun safety? Post a query on the FindLaw Answers Criminal Law forum, where our community of legal contributors can chime in with their expert opinions.

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