AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Department of Safety are teaming up to remind hunters and gun owners to securely lock their weapons to keep them from getting into the wrong hands.

“A substantial amount of firearms are taken out of vehicles and taken from homes. And where do they end up usually? On our streets,” said Sgt. Deon Cockrell with DPS.

According to a report released earlier this year from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 1,074,022 firearms were reported stolen from 2017-2021.

The Austin Police Department reported 64% of missing or stolen firearms in 2022 stemmed from car burglaries.

The city of Houston saw a record breaking number last year, with more than 4,140 firearms stolen from cars.

Those numbers could be higher, as some gun thefts go unreported to police.

“I think a lot of people don’t want to be honest about where they keep their guns and how they keep their guns. So I think that’s a statistic that’s hard to really get a handle on, but I do know that the more we push out the message on how important it is to lock up these guns and put them away in a place where people don’t have access to it that is gonna better handle the number of stolen guns that are taken and the number of injuries that occur in the home,” said Sgt. Cockrell.

The Keep ‘Em Safe Texas program was created three years ago to educate gun owners how to safely store firearms. 

“So basically, Texas came up with a 1-2-3 of safe gun storage,” said Sgt. Cockrell.

  1. Store Firearms Properly. Store guns unloaded and secured by a trigger lock, biometric lock, gun case, strong box, gun cabinet or gun safe. 
  2. Lock Up Ammunition. Store ammunition safely, always locked away separately from firearms.
  3. Restrict Access. Keep others from access to stored firearms 24/7; this includes family, friends, children or other visitors.

It’s a joint message with the TPWD during hunting season.  

“We’d like to remind hunters that are traveling to and from to make sure that they lock up their firearms and not just leave them open in the vehicles or in the camps where they go,” said Sgt. Cockrell.