‘Lawlessness’: GRPD seizing more illegal weapons

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Alarming: that’s what the Grand Rapids Police Department is calling the number of illegal weapons it has seized this year.

Fifty-five such guns were taken into evidence in the last three weeks alone.

Many are coming from legal gun owners who didn’t lock up their weapons. It’s a taxing trend that police are trying to end.

“We’re just really concerned with the pattern that we are seeing,” GRPD Sgt. Dan Adams said.

GRPD says it has confiscated 459 illegal firearms so far this year. To put that in perspective, we are eight months into the year and only about 30 guns away from the total from 2020, when GRPD confiscated 491 illegal weapons.

The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety says it seized 341 illegal weapons so far this year. Like GRPD, it is on pace to surpass last year’s total of 412.

Illegal is defined as possessed illegally — either stolen or used in a crime.

“Essentially what it comes down to is we are seeing lawlessness,” Adams said, “a disregard for consequences.”

He said there is a correlation between the number of shootings and the number of guns. Violence has been on the rise during the pandemic and courts and jails are backed up, creating a perfect storm.

“That’s the target right now for these offenders, is how can I get guns,” Adams said.

So where are the guns coming from?

“They are registered to the gun store they were stolen from, they’re registered to the person who had their gun stolen, they are not registered. So we are having to manually back track paper files to figure out where did this gun come from,” Adams said.

Too often, GRPD says, guns are being taken from unlocked cars or stolen from homes or businesses left unsecured.

“Every one of those illegal firearms, particularly those used in violent crime, that’s at least one potential life. That’s a family that’s affected and an individual and a community that is going to have a negative impact,” Adam said.

There are cash rewards through Silent Observer for tips leading to illegal weapons. 

If you own a gun legally, the message from GRPD is to lock it up.

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