Study: Alaska leads nation in rate of firearms stolen

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2002

FAIRBANKS - Alaska leads the nation in the number of firearms stolen per thousand homes, according to a report released Wednesday by a Washington, D.C.-based gun-safety group.

That ranking may result from the state's small population - about 634,000 residents - and the high number of households that own guns, said a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

"There are a lot of people who like to hunt and fish, and use a gun for hunting and probably self-defense in a remote area," said spokeswoman Martha Tebbenkamp of Seattle.

Nearly 1.7 million guns have been stolen nationwide in the last decade, according to a report released from the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation. Alaska led with 42.7 thefts per thousand homes, more than twice the national average, the report stated.

California ranks first nationally in the number of guns made, sold and stolen, the foundation reported. California also has the nation's largest population and ranks 29th in guns stolen per resident.

In 1999-2000, Alaskans reported 1,281 firearm thefts compared to California's 19,948 thefts, the report stated.

Alaska is one of six states that had firearm theft rates more than twice the national average. The other states are Mississippi, Arkansas, New Mexico, Georgia and Alabama. The national average is 16.8.

States with the highest theft rates share common traits such as a large number of gun owners, relatively high crime rates, and no laws requiring safe storage of guns in homes. Massachusetts was listed last in the rankings with only 2.9 thefts per thousand households.

The foundation's report is based on numbers provided to the FBI by law enforcement agencies.

"Stolen firearms are a very marketable commodity out on the street," said Tebbenkamp of the BATF. "If a firearm is stolen, it cannot be directly linked to the user."

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