It's pretty darn well known around here that most Texans love their guns. If you're from Texas, it's a fair bet that you can boast at least one relative who basically owns an arsenal that would be enough firepower to defend a small country, if the need arose.
Earlier this year, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll was conducted and of the 1,200 people surveyed, nearly half said they were gun owners, which is a lot of people packing heat. On top of that, of those who said they own a gun, 44 percent of them said they owned two to five guns, which all translates, unsurprisingly, to a hell of a lot of guns in the Lone Star State.
There's a flip side to everything, though, and while we have a ton of guns in Texas, it turns out this is the place to be if you want to get your gun lost or stolen. There were more guns lost or stolen in Texas last year than in any other state in the country, according to a study recently released by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The study found that more guns were reported lost or stolen in Texas than in any other state in the country, to the tune of 18,874, or about 10 percent of the guns reported lost or stolen for the entire country.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Back in January, President Obama issued a directive ordering the study in the midst of his push for gun control, before the legislative effort met its death in the U.S. Congress earlier this year. Why does the government care about these lost or stolen guns? The report addresses that right off:
"Lost and stolen firearms pose a substantial threat to public safety and to law enforcement," the report states. "Those that steal firearms commit violent crimes with stolen guns, transfer stolen firearms to others who commit crimes, and create an unregulated secondary market for firearms, including a market for those who are prohibited by law from possessing a gun."
Because law enforcement officials aren't required to report lost or stolen firearms that are reported to them, and because private citizens aren't required to report when a firearm is stolen or lost in the first place, it is acknowledged in the report that getting truly accurate numbers is pretty difficult. However, there's better luck with those who are Federal Firearms Licensees, because Congress enacted a law requiring them to report a lost or stolen gun within 48 hours of discovering the gun is missing, according to the report.
Bureau officials relied on data from the National Crime Information Center to put together the study, and it's noted in the report that this isn't even taking into account the firearms that are lost or stolen and go unreported. So there are definitely more guns out there wandering footloose, fancy-free and unregistered than the report can account for. And the odds are good that a significant portion of those guns are in Texas.