Six law enforcement officers were killed in Alabama in 2019. According to the Alabama Association of Chiefs of Police (AACOP), five of them were killed using stolen guns.
AACOP President Bill Partridge took to Facebook to confirm the news on Friday. In his post, he said that's one reason why it's "so important to be a responsible gun owner."
Birmingham Police Sgt. Wytasha Carter was the first who was shot and killed back in January. Just over a week later, Mobile Police Officer Sean Tuder was murdered. The year continued with the shooting deaths of Auburn Police Officer William Buechner in May, Tuscaloosa Police Detective Dornell Cousette in September, Lowndes County Sheriff John "Big John" Williams in November and Huntsville STAC Agent Billy Clardy III this month.
David Hyche, the assistant special agent in charge in Alabama for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), said that only Sheriff Williams was killed with a gun that was not stolen.
He told WAAY 31 that the other guns were determined to be stolen after the agency "traced the firearms back to the retail purchasers."
"When citizens don't have their serial numbers recorded, the stolen guns can't be entered into the NCIC (National Crime Information Center)," said Hyche in a statement.
A bill making it a felony to be in possession of a stolen firearm was signed into law by Governor Kay Ivey in July 2019 and went into effect in October.
"We are grateful that possession of a stolen firearm is again a felony in Alabama," said Partridge.
The Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, states that "From 2012 through 2015, the average rate of the five states with the highest rates of gun theft from private owners - Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Alabama - was 13 times higher than the average rate of the five states with the lowest rates - Hawaii, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts."
The CAP sources the FBI's "Uniform Crime Reporting Program Data: Property Stolen and Recovered" from the aforementioned years.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), in 2018 there were 2,298 theft/loss reports of firearms and 16,256 total firearms missing. Of those, Alabama accounted for 87 reports and 288 firearms.
When put in order, Alabama ranked No. 22 for the most firearms reported stolen or lost, but came in at No. 7 in terms of the number of reports made.
According to the ATF, in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, there were 6,512 firearms that were recovered and traced.
The flow of guns tells another part of the story. According to an analysis by the nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization The Trace, Alabama is represented twice in its top 20 list that ranks the percentage of guns traced with a short time-to-crime (i.e. under one year) that flow from one state to another.
"Time-to-crime (TTC) measures the time between a gun's original sale and its recovery by law enforcement," The Trace states.
In 2018, 131 guns travelled from Alabama to Illinois with 20.6 percent of them having a short TTC, which was the third highest percentage that year. 136 guns from Alabama appeared in New York with 16.2 percent of them having a short TTC.
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