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Gun theft is on the rise, and Alabama is one of the most highly affected states

A new report finds that firearm theft has spiked nationwide, and the Yellowhammer State has taken one of the hardest hits.

The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found that overall thefts and losses of firearms around the country increased 24 percent in 2016. In Alabama, the jump is even more dramatic: 67 percent more guns have been stolen or lost since 2015.

ATF Special Agent Michael Knight told Huntsville’s WHNT that the high number may simply reflect the high interest in firearms in the state.

“Whenever you have a larger number of firearms, even if they are legal firearms, you have more interest in the criminal element to look at the area,” said Knight. “There are just a lot of firearms, legally, in [Alabama.]”

Knight went on to urge gun buyers to ensure that they “be aware” of the history of the firearms they purchase.

“I think the public should be aware if they are making a transaction, purchasing a firearm… if they want to go to a gun shop and get a background check, to see if that gun is stolen,” he recommended.

The federal agency has consistently found Alabama to be one of the highest gun-toting states in the country, ranking fifth for registered guns per capita in 2016. As of January, Yellowhammer State is said to boast a total of 134,687 registered weapons equaling approximately 2,777.41 per 100,000 residents. Only four other areas have a higher ratio: Wyoming, Washington D.C., New Mexico, and Virginia.

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