Crime report shows increased property crimes linked to gun violence
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Guns are the overwhelming weapon of choice in Memphis and Shelby County.
The Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission and the University of Memphis Public Safety Institute have released a report showing statistics on the city’s crime rates for the first half of 2022.
The eight-page report reads that the percentage of violent crimes being committed with a gun nearly doubled in the last decade.
This increase corresponds with an increase in property crime, where guns are being stolen out of cars.
Right now, car break-ins are one of the top three crimes happening in Memphis.
The head of the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission says it’s all connected.
”The good news is that our violent crime rate is going down,” Bill Gibbons, president of the crime commission said.
Numbers show that the major violent crime rate in the first half of 2022 (which includes murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault) dropped 6.1 percent in Memphis and 5.7 percent countywide.
“The other side of the coin,” Gibbons continued, “is that an increasing percentage of our violent crime is being committed with guns.”
MPD data shows more than 70 percent of violent incidents in the city this year involved guns. In 2016, it was 60 percent. In 2011, 40 percent.
The report suggests that this trend corresponds with gun thefts.
Preliminary TBI data shows that major property crime (burglary, motor vehicle theft, and other felony theft) increased during the first half of the year compared to last year, up 18 percent in Memphis and 14.8 percent countywide.
According to the report, this increase was driven primarily by over 3,600 motor vehicle thefts countywide and over 15,000 reported felony thefts.
”I can tell you, I’m one of the victims in the last year, I’ve had my car broken into,” said Gibbons, “and more than 1,200 guns have been stolen during car break-ins in Memphis this year. We’ve been seeing this increase since 2014 when the Tennessee General Assembly, in an incorrect decision in my opinion, passed legislation allowing guns in cars without a permit.”
Gibbons said it didn’t take the criminal element very long to figure out there are more guns being stored in cars.
“So what the U.S. Attorney’s Office is looking at, and the police department, is really an educational campaign with the public to emphasize the importance of not leaving unsecured guns in cars. That’s a big part of the problem.”
Shelby County leaders announced the formation of a Gun Safety Council on Thursday in which cops and community members joined forces to come up with solutions in the coming months.
”We’ll be convening in the next three months,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, “and you’ll see more gun locks available in more places, for example. I expect you’ll see public service announcements that raise awareness around public safety and how to properly store your gun so a criminal can’t break into a car and steal your gun.”
Engaging the citizens, turning ideas into action, and working together is what leading local crime fighters insist it will take to stop a troubling trend in Shelby County.
“Guns are becoming the weapon of choice in more and more of our violent crimes,” said Gibbons, “Violent crime is going down, and that’s encouraging, but guns are the weapons of choice.”
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