In response to a rash of vehicle burglaries targeting handguns, officials from the city of Mobile are joining a push to create stronger penalties for criminals caught with stolen firearms.
In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Mobile Public Safety Director James Barber said the crime should be made a Class C felony, and he plans to address the issue at a public hearing of the Alabama State Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, April 24.
Barber will be joined by Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste and police chiefs from other major cities across Alabama.
The proposal comes after much discussion among legislators who support making it a criminal act to leave a gun in an unlocked vehicle. While that type of negligence can put other citizens in danger if their weapon is stolen, Barber has been consistently opposed to penalizing crime victims.
Barber said the proliferation of stolen firearms has to be addressed, but he believes the focus should remain on the criminals who target unsecured guns and not on gun owners.
“Although I understand the frustration, I absolutely do not agree with arresting an otherwise law-abiding citizen simply because they forgot to lock their vehicle,” Barber wrote. “The bottom line is that no one has the right to come onto your property, enter your vehicle, and remove anything without your permission.”
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