When advocating for responsible gun ownership, it’s probably not a good idea to leave an AR-15 just lying around in your unlocked garage.
But that seems to have been the case for GOP Congresswoman Renee Ellmers who had that very thing happen to her last week. Police said that an AR-15 rifle was among several items stolen from the North Carolina rep’s home on October 15 after some of her family members went target shooting.
The rifle, which belongs to Ellmers’ college-age son, was propped up against a gun safe in her unlocked garage.
According to her website, Ellmers is a staunch supporter of gun rights.
“Although she believes that gun owners must be responsible for the use and care of their guns, she does not want to see law-abiding gun owners penalized for the actions of criminals,” her website says. “It has become far too easy to place blame on guns, and their accessibility, rather than the criminals themselves.”
Since North Carolina’s gun-storage laws only apply when a minor gets access to a firearm and actually uses it, Ellmers will not be charged with leaving the AR-15 so exposed unless it was, in fact, stolen by a minor.
It is unknown whether the weapon was loaded or if it had a gun lock on it. But it wouldn’t really matter, said one gun shop manager.
“Maybe there was a gun lock (typically a steel cable) on it that locked the gun from use but didn’t prevent it from being stolen,” said Mitch Hyatt, a manager of Hyatt Gun Shop in Charlotte. “If someone had it, they wouldn’t be able to operate it without cutting the lock off.”
In any case, Ellmers’ reps are baffled by the crime, same as you or I.
“Gun safety is of the utmost importance in their household, which is exactly why she’s so upset and doesn’t understand how this happened,” a spokesman said.