MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As violent crime continues to be a major issue in the city of Memphis, lawmakers say they are pushing for better gun laws in the state, but they’re still getting push back.
“I’m not anti-gun. I’m not anti-second amendment. But I think that everything that we do we need to keep gun safety and just being smart at the forefront,” said Tennessee senator Raumesh Akbari.
Memphis Police say there have been at least 71 interstate shootings, 279 homicides, and as of September, there have been more than 4,700 reported violent incidents involving guns.
Police chief deputy Samuel Hines tells WREG he believes the increase in gun violence is due to an increase in people having guns in cars.
In Tennessee, it is legal to have a loaded weapon in a vehicle without a permit but Hines believes this can be a problem.
The University of Memphis Public Safety institute reports around 850 firearms have been reported stolen from vehicles in Memphis this year.
Hines says this is causing a Domino Effect when it comes to crime.
“A lot of the criminals are getting their guns out of cars because so many people keep their weapon in their car,” Hine said. “That does lead to more crime which eventually leads to more homicides.”
Tennessee senator Raumesh Akbari says she’s advocated for gun safety for years, even putting forth legislation that would make it an offense to leave an unsecured firearm in an unattended vehicle.
However, she says she’s received push back from fellow legislators.
“I really don’t think that the benefit that folks claim being able to have the gun in your car being an extension of the castle doctrine is outweighing the significant increase in the weapons that are being stolen,” Akbari said.
Akbari says a lot of the state’s budget goes towards funding law enforcement but the need to put more resources towards fighting crime could put stress on what is already going to be lean budget year.
“If we can do some things preemptively to decrease crime than we decrease the cost of law enforcement,” Akbari said.
Akbari says she is working with fellow lawmakers on a solution, but it’s going to take compromise to find middle ground on the issue.
“I think that should really be a bipartisan issue,” Akbari said. “At the end of the day, we all want to be safe. We all want to be sure that those who have weapons can have them legally and they’re not being stolen, and we can make some smart decisions.”
Memphis Police tell us they have started Operation Cool Down as an effort to reduce violent crimes, but they tell us they still need the public’s help,
So, if you have a tip about a crime, you are encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.