DENVER — Police have recovered over 1,000 illegal guns from Denver streets so far this year, according to Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas.
Keeping guns out of the wrong hands is one way the Denver Police Department is trying to improve safety.
“There are far too many guns in our community, far too many individuals that feel emboldened to use them during the daylight, in large crowds, even very near where police officers are known to be,” said Thomas.
Thomas says many of the guns recovered were stolen from cars and used to commit other crimes.
“There are a number of tragedies that we've traced back to guns that were stolen or guns that were irresponsibly maintained,” said Thomas.
DPD says thieves stole more than 260 guns from cars from January to May of this year.
Last year, thieves stole 768 guns from cars, according to DPD.
“That’s the number one place in America where guns are stolen from is from cars,” said Justin Weathers, a gun safety expert with Final Protection Line Academy.
Weathers says gun owners often keep guns in their cars for self-defense.
“You do not have to have a concealed carry permit to have a loaded handgun in your car for the purposes of self-defense, and so obviously people want to have those guns with them,” said Weathers.
But he says criminals are well aware of this when breaking into a car.
“They’re looking for high-value items. They're going to quickly pop open that glove compartment or the center console, and guns are worth a lot of money,” said Weathers. “That’s the first thing people are going to grab.”
He recommends gun owners bring their guns inside their homes and safely store them.
He says if gun owners are someplace where guns aren’t allowed inside, like a government building, he recommends they get a gun lock box for their car.
“You can lock your gun inside there. A would-be thief is going to either have to have some tools on them to remove that, and it's going to take time, it's going to take a lot of effort," said Weathers. "Hopefully, more than they are willing to spend."
Both Weathers and Chief Thomas say responsible gun ownership will go a long way in keeping Denver and other communities safer.