Local gun shop encourages gun owners to buy safes to prevent gun thefts

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Wichita police say more and more criminals are stealing guns and committing other crimes with them.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay says the suspect in the latest officer-involved shooting was using a stolen gun. The gun was reported stolen from car parked in a parking lot at New Market Square. He urges gun owners to not store guns in cars.

"Would you ever leave it in your car?

"No, absolutely not," said Tori Harms. She says leaving her gun in her car is out of the question. Harms considers herself a responsible gun owner, “I don't want to be seen as an irresponsible gun owner. My second amendment right is very important to me and I would hate to see gun owners being irresponsible affect that."

But according to the Wichita Police Department, a lot of people do. Chief Ramsay shared some unsettling stats, saying so far this year thieves have stolen 130 guns from cars. Last year, thieves stole 293 guns from cars.

Some of those guns possibly linked to violent crimes. WPD said last year it had 615 aggravated assaults involving guns and this is year 340 cases.

Ken Grommet, a former law enforcement officer turned gun store owner, encourages his clients to spend the extra cash on a safe that can be used in a car.

He said, "When you have 300 plus guns stolen from vehicles. Why were they left in vehicles? Why weren't they better secured?"

Grommet owns Range 54 and sells a variety of safes designed for gun owners who want to store their firearms in their cars. Some of the safes include a cable that you can wrap and lock-into-place around the base of your car seat.

Harms believes owners should be held responsible if their gun is stolen from a vehicle and later used in a violent crime. She said, “I absolutely think there should be some level of accountability for that gun owner."

Grommet disagrees, but says owners could potentially face consequences. "In civil law, you can be sued for anything. Whether or not you would be held responsible, that's going to be up to the court."

Grommet and Harms, who are both gun owners, say they believe in spending extra money to protect firearms from getting into the wrong hands.

Harms said, "Take those extra steps, the money you're going to spend on that is a lot less than the cost of someone's life that violent offender could use it for if they steal it out of your car."