Rumor Alert: The Vehicle Gun Theft “Epidemic”

Long before Al Gore "created" the Internet, gun owners were busy perfecting grassroots networking. Today, gun owners have an almost unlimited number of ways to spread information crucial to our community. And, while the Internet is certainly an indispensible tool for protecting our rights, an unfortunate side effect has been the fast and easy spread of rumors.

The latest of these, appearing on Internet message boards and in emails, warns of a growing trend of gangsters marking the license plates or wheels of vehicles parked at shooting clubs, gun stores, ranges and gun shows. According to the rumor, the thieves later spot or follow the marked vehicles and break into them to steal guns while their owners are elsewhere.

The reports go on to claim that the tactic has reached "epidemic" proportions in San Antonio, Texas, and specifically, at the National Skeet Shooting Association and National Sporting Clays Association's National Shooting Complex. Naturally, the NSC investigated the matter thoroughly. They concluded that the rumor is false on several counts.

First, all of the "suspicious" vehicle markings reported to the NSC turned out to be routine—placed there by those who manufactured, owned or serviced the vehicles. The online reports also suggest that the NSCA National Championship was a particular target of gun thieves. In reality, there were no reported gun thefts at the 2011 event. A claim that a police chief in San Antonio met with 400 shooters to discuss the trend is also false. (To read the NSC's full statement, go to

Gun theft is a serious concern for all gun owners, who should certainly take reasonable precautions to protect their firearms from criminals. But the truth of this story should also remind us that there's no need to panic — and that it's always worth taking a few moments to check out tales like this before passing them on. After all, it would be a tragedy if shooters were discouraged from pursuing the activities they love and exercising their Second Amendment rights due to rampant urban legends.

Copyright 2011, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action. This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.

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