CINCINNATI — Stolen guns have been the murder weapons in four high-profile homicides since the beginning of 2021, according to Hamilton County prosecutors. Madeira Beverage owner Roop Gupta, shot dead in his store in February, was one of them; three more people died the same month in what police described as a series of connected contract killings.
All of the guns used in these homicides were stolen, according to investigators.
“It's a major headache because guns are stolen pretty much every day,” said state Sen. Cecil Thomas. “And they're stolen out of cars, they're stolen out of homes, they're stolen out of businesses."
Violence involving stolen guns accounts for no more than a third of all violent incidents, according to authorities.
But keeping guns safely secured is a good way to drive violent crime numbers down, according to Thomas.
“If citizens would take the time to secure the firearm, even if it's in the home, whether it’s a locker, a foot locker or whatever,” he said. “Something where, if someone breaks into your home, that gun cannot be stolen.”
Ohio is among only 11 states that require victims report stolen guns, which Thomas said is a positive step.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which traces guns sold by licensed federal dealers, big-box stores and in-home shops, reported just 134 gun thefts in Ohio during 2020 — a three-year low. The ATF reported 320 gun thefts in 2018 and 245 in 2019.
However, those numbers don’t reflect thefts from private collections. The impact of those additional thefts falls on law enforcement.