As the issue of gun control dominates the political stage, gun safety at home should be on the minds of homeowners who keep firearms in their houses. There's reason to be vigilant: Stolen guns is a big problem. Statistics show an alarming rate of weapons being stolen during home burglaries -- and more often than not, they never get recovered.
According to the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition -- which counts political heavyweights such as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg among its high-ranking members -- as many as 600,000 guns are stolen from private homes every year. The group said on its website that it got that figure by culling polling data on households that own guns.
The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report last November with lower -- but still alarming -- numbers. According to the report, 1.4 million firearms were stolen during burglaries and other property crimes between 2005 and 2010. That's an average of 232,400 annually. Here's the most frightening part: At least 80 percent of the stolen guns had not been recovered by the time the report was released. A look at recent news reports indicates that the problem is widespread:
• A New York homeowner who was identified in The Journal News' infamous gun map as a gun-permit holder was targeted for a gun robbery at his house last Saturday. (Officials have said that it's too soon to tell if there is any connection between the burglary and the suburban New York newspaper's map.)
• A Denver police officer's home was burglarized Jan. 15, and his police gear and guns were stolen, The Denver Post reported. Police said that they were concerned that the burglar might intend to impersonate an officer.
• Six guns were stolen from a homeowner's wooden gun cabinet in Aurora, N.C., on Monday, eastern North Carolina TV station WITN reported. Police said four of the guns were assault weapons, including three rifles.
• Two masked men -- one of them armed with a gun -- robbed a home in Milan, Ill., of three firearms Wednesday, the Quad-City Times reported.
So how can you prevent this from happening to you? Watch for a post on gun safety at home soon, but the National Rifle Association -- currently in a heated political fight with the Obama administration over gun control laws -- offers training on gun safety in all types of situations. Generally speaking, the best way to store your guns at home is to keep them in lock boxes or gun safes. That will not only make it harder for burglars to get to the guns, but it will keep firearms out of the reach of children.
Read more from AOL's series, "Guns in America":
Guns at the Airport: TSA Catching Firearms at Record Pace
Confessions of a Gun Shop Owner
Guns and the Energy Sector: Risk Awareness Grows
Follow @AOLGunsInUSA for more coverage of the hot-button issue of gun control.
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