A man looking for his sunglasses Sunday couldn’t find them — or the loaded 9mm handgun he kept in the car’s front console, the sort of incident a proposed City Council ordinance would like to keep from happening.
Councilman Roy Christensen’s proposal would mandate guns left unattended in cars be locked up, which would replace an existing ordinance that prohibits people from leaving guns unattended in their vehicles longer than 24 hours.
That proposal — along with another from Councilwoman Jane Raybould that would require gun owners to report firearm thefts within 48 hours — are the first proposed changes to the city gun laws following a task force report issued this summer.
The gun owner, who lives near 27th and Superior streets, called police Sunday evening, after he went to the car to look for his Oakley sunglasses. Those were gone, along with the gun.
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Last year, 24 of the 148 guns stolen in Lincoln were taken from cars. Juveniles commit nearly half of the thefts from vehicles, the task force found, and of the thefts from autos police cleared over the past five years that involved firearms, the majority of the thieves were juveniles.
The man whose gun was stolen Sunday was not cited under the current ordinance, which law enforcement officials said has been hard to enforce because it’s tough to prove how long a gun was left in a vehicle. The task force also noted that enforcing the ordinance could result in gun owners being reluctant to report stolen firearms.
If the proposed ordinances are passed, violators would face up to six months in jail or a $500 fine, though the city attorney said he doesn’t think judges would levy the most severe penalties in most cases. Supporters hope those ordinances would encourage people to follow the law.
There will be a City Council hearing on the ordinances later this month.
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