On the surface, it seems absurd that the Albany Police Department would even have to ask residents to lock their cars, particularly when there are handguns in the vehicles.
But police found a need to do that after a string of entering-autos this past weekend resulted in guns and ammunition being stolen from at least three vehicles.
That means that today, largely because of the negligence of the owners, three more guns are in the hands of criminals.
Whether these weapons will be used in the commission of a crime is something we can’t know yet, but the recent spate of gun violence that has left two people dead and others shot at is an indication of what can happen when guns get into the wrong hands.
Owning a firearm is a constitutional right in the United States, one every bit as important as freedom of speech and freedom from a state-sponsored religion. But ownership of a gun — whether it’s a handgun, shotgun or one of the “assault-style” rifles that are fueling debate in Washington — also is a responsibility.
Gun owners are responsible for taking basic precautions to prevent their self-defense or sporting weapons from falling into the hands of criminals who would use them to do harm to others. Arming criminals, in fact, defeats the entire purpose of self-defense.
Gun owners, as a rule, take this responsibility seriously. But a few, at least, obviously are not, or else these weapons would not have so easily been added to the arsenals of criminals. Leaving an auto unlocked with a weapon inside is inexcusable.
Gun ownership is a right, but the gun owner also must live up to the responsibility that comes with exercising that right. The last thing a gun owner should want is to know that his or her carelessness contributed to an injury or — even worse — death.