11 Investigates guns used in crimes and where they’re coming from

PITTSBURGH — Gun violence is a huge problem here in Pittsburgh and around the country.

Now, thanks to a new study by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, we now know the source of many of the illegal guns that drive this problem: car break-ins.

In cities that report crime data to the FBI, the ATF found one gun is stolen from a car every 15 minutes. It also discovered that the crime is skyrocketing.

Ten years ago, fewer than a quarter of stolen guns came from cars. Now in 2020, that number is nearly 50%.

Their study also found most of these thefts happen when your car is parked in front of your house or even in your driveway.

“Yeah, yeah. Makes sense, doesn’t it?” said gun store owner Gooch Lonadi. His shop, “Smoke and Guns” in Oakmont, includes a trigger lock with every gun sale.

“I mean, if you have a firearm for protection, why is it sitting in your car?” said Lonadi. “Don’t you want it in your house with you?”

Police Chief Sean Frank said It’s not an epidemic in Shaler, although they do get reports of stolen guns.

So, why would an otherwise responsible gun owner leave a gun unsecured, or even out in the open in his car?

Frank said it’s a false sense of security: “I’m not gonna lock my car at night. I might leave my garage door open at night because nobody’s gonna come in.”

But Frank added: “That’s not the world we live in now.

Tragedy. That’s what you end up with.”

Channel 11: “Your message to the legal gun owner—you can make a difference?”

Chief Frank: “Absolutely, absolutely.”

Channel 11: “No question?”

Chief Frank: “Not at all.”

It’s something mother Hadley Hass also believes.

“We feel strongly that secure storage is the responsible thing to do” she told us.

‘We’ is “Moms Demand Action in America”, a collection of volunteers that are committed to ending gun violence.

“I just think from a mom’s perspective, we can’t allow this to continue,” said Hass. “We have to do something to help our children.”

That’s why Hass has been spending time in Harrisburg fighting to change state law. The reason? 25 states have secure storage or child-access-prevention laws, but not Pennsylvania.

“Secure storage also prevents firearm suicide, unintentional shootings and school shootings, and mass shootings as well,” she said.

Her group hopes to get a bill passed to require secure storage for gun owners, along with another law to require that when a gun is lost or stolen, it must be reported.

Currently, Pennsylvania has no such statute on the books.

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