SAN ANTONIO – A bill introduced this legislative session seeks to make it a crime to fail to report a lost or stolen gun to law enforcement authorities.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez said it’s a law that doesn’t exist and needs to be on the books.
“We know when guns are stolen or lost, a crime will be committed with that weapon,” he said.
House Bill 1207 would require a gun owner whose weapon is lost or stolen to report it to authorities within five days of first realizing the weapon is gone. Failure to do so would mean the person would face a Class C misdemeanor and the loss of their eligibility for a license to carry for five years.
Rodriguez thinks the law would cut back on “straw purchases,” which are a federal crime.
“The ‘straw purchase’ is me giving (a gun) to someone that really shouldn’t be allowed to have one,” Rodriguez said.
He thinks it’s a commonsense bill that should make it through the floor.
In 2017, San Antonio police said, they received 2,869 reports of stolen or lost firearms. In 2018, they received 1,900 reports.
Sgt. Michelle Ramos, with the San Antonio Police Department, said that, oftentimes, stolen weapons are recovered at crime scenes. Knowing who they belong to could help investigators with their case.
“In the event that a gun falls into the wrong hands, we can track it kind of backwards to where it was reported stolen or lost,” Ramos said.
San Antonio police say it's easy to report a lost or stolen weapon. All you have to do is call your local law enforcement agency's non-emergency number and file a report.
"We always encourage people to report it, because in the event that you find it ... later, it's as simple as calling us back, letting them know that the gun has been located and we can cancel that lost notification," Ramos said.
When the weapon is reported to officials, it is entered into the National Crime Information Center and the Texas Crime Information Center databases, which track stolen guns.
Gun rights advocate Rick Briscoe, with Open Carry Texas, said HB 1207 is trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist.
“We encourage and recommend people to report their lost, missing or stolen firearms. We just don't think the government should criminalize failure to do so within a short period of time,” Briscoe said.
Briscoe said he thinks the law is arbitrary and infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Eleven other states, including the District of Columbia, have a law requiring people to report a lost or stolen weapon, according to Giffords Law Center.
Rodriguez expects the bill to make its way to the floor this legislative session.
Graphic courtesy: Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives