Democrat Sioux Falls City Councilor Patrick Starr wants to target gun owners with fines for being victims of theft.

Punishing victims of crime because they own a gun?

From the Argus Leader, Liberal Democrat & Sioux Falls City Councilor Patrick Starr is announcing his interest in city ordinances to punish gun owners when someone steals from their car or home:

A rash of firearm thefts from unlocked vehicles and garages has at least one Sioux Falls official toying with the idea of establishing penalties for the victims.


That has Councilor Pat Starr investigating whether the city has the ability to establish an ordinance to penalize gun owners who don’t keep their firearms locked up.

“I’m a big believer in the Second Amendment, and I believe that people have the right to bear their arms, but at the same time it comes with a responsibility,” Starr told his fellow councilors Tuesday afternoon at Carnegie Town Hall.


That could be a tough sell for Starr, though. A long-standing South Dakota law prohibits counties and local governments from using ordinances to restrict “possession, transportation, sale, transfer, ownership, manufacture, or repair of firearms or ammunition.”

Go read it here.

Wow! So, if my house isn’t locked, and someone makes off with my property I’m legally allowed to possess in my home, I’m somehow at fault?

Starr might claim he’s “a big believer in the Second Amendment,” but it is not borne out by his statements.   Punishing the victim because of what was stolen? What’s next, does he plan on fining people who have been prescribed certain medications if someone robs from their medicine cabinet?

Starr is doing nothing but BLAMING THE VICTIM in one of the most overtly big-government and expressly anti-2nd amendment proposals I’ve ever heard uttered forth from any public official ever in the State of South Dakota.


34 thoughts on “Democrat Sioux Falls City Councilor Patrick Starr wants to target gun owners with fines for being victims of theft.”

  1. There should be no law demanding we lock our doors.

    Even if we enacted Starr’s proposal, how does the state prove the house/car was unlocked? Ask the crook?

    And what constitutes “locked?” Some locking mechanisms are easily defeated. Who decides what lock will suffice?

    This is a terrible idea.

  2. Throwing this out there for consideration–check with your insurance agent if you are covered if your doors aren’t locked.

    1. I checked. I’m covered. I can grill in the backyard, swim, play fetch with my lab, or let my son shoot hoops — all with the door unlocked! I can work in the garage with the door wide open. I can even, on a nice summer evening, leave a window ajar. I have one open right now. Are you calling me a criminal, or do you want my agent’s number?

      1. a friend of paranoia–no one called you a criminal. LOL I think what the other person is saying is if your property is stolen and you didn’t take precautions to prevent it such as locking your doors, insurance may not cover your losses.

  3. I think gun owners should have some responsibility when it comes to securing unattended weapons. I have over 30 firearms and I always exercise a one lock minimum. Lake county just lost a toddler when an unsecured weapon fell into his hands and he blew his head off. Such irresponsibility should come with a penalty. Not necessarily jail time but maybe a loss of weapons until a person learns to be more responsible. Most gun owners I know feel the same way. These people make us all look bad.

  4. I like Starr’s thought process… “And if it takes a penalty to make you do the right thing, we’re approaching that.” We should also consider penalizing people who have accidental drownings in their pool. How could we make parents like Bode & Morgan Miller do the “right thing”? Punish them with a fine, that sounds reasonable. How about accidental deaths on the farm? Penalize the people who should’ve done the “right thing”, I could get on board with this./s

    Does the law require owners to lock their vehicle when it’s not in use? If it’s in the garage, is it required to be locked? In the driveway? How about a stronger penalty for criminals who know they’re stealing, you know, doing the wrong thing. Is that up for discussion?

    1. Does your kid dying in a pool possibly result in the death of another person because of that incident? How about farm accidents? Pretty terrible straw man arguments you have there.

      Most of us feel leaving weapons unattended is the wrong thing, but that is just common sense which can’t be found anymore.

  5. To answer your “Wow” question, the answer is “Yes,” if your personal item is lethal.

    If gun owners should not be scolded and or held acceptable for such malfeasances, then why do we tell gun owners to be responsible and keep their guns in a safe place?

    Oh, and such gun owners, are not “victims,” rather they are potentially unwitting enablers, who purchased a potential liability when they bought their guns.

    1. Stolen cars often end up in crashes, sometimes killing people. According to your rational, the owners of such stolen cars. are not “victims”, rather they are potentially unwitting enablers, who purchased a potential liability when they bought their car.

      1. They are, if they left their car unlocked. But stolen guns ending up in a criminal act – beyond the theft itself – are far more probable then stolen cars ending-up in a criminal act -beyond the theft itself – so your comparison is academic at best. There are economies of scale that come into play with both examples and its more realistic as a society to financially recognize the liability of a lax gun owner as compared to a lax car owner….

        Often gun owners claim that, “if we got rid of guns, that only criminals would have guns.” Well, that comment alone should justify us coming down hard on gun owners who are lax with their gun ownership responsibilities, would it not?

        1. No, genius. Damage & human injury, including death, resulting from stolen cars = more frequent by an order of magnitude. It happens basically every day. See, for example, today: A Sioux Falls man was arrested Wednesday morning after crashing a stolen car into a parked vehicle in central Sioux Falls, police spokesman Sam Clemens said.

          Randy Johnson, 31, was pulled over by officers when the tan Buick Park Avenue he was driving was spotted by the woman it was stolen from, Clemens said.

          Johnson stopped for a moment before taking off at a high rate of speed. Johnson crashed into a black Chevy Avalanche after running the stop sign at the intersection of Second Street and Prairie Avenue, Clemens said.

          Stolen gun injuries/ deaths are more dramatic. Stolen auto injuries are much more common. If you want to hold liable every owner of stolen property, e.g. chain saws, drugs, boots, knives, rope, cars, axes, poisons, crowbars, etc. that’s a logically consistent position, albeit one with which i disagree.

        2. Your logic is anything but “stable” or “genious”. I would say you more likely subscribe to schizophrenia and idiot.

  6. The problem is that the anti-gunners never stop wanting more laws. They always say “well this is a start but we must do more to stop gun violence.” Thus we responsible, law abiding gun owners don’t like more restrictions or more penalties placed upon us. Maybe we should have a law that fines car owners whose car is stolen and causes damage. Makes as much sense. Sounds like you want to go back to the days that when a woman was raped, she was blamed for her dress, walking alone, or attending a bar by herself . . . . because she was asking for it. I have no tolerance for criminals.

  7. Even more damming are all those weapons of massive cranial destruction lying all around soft ball fields of dreams.
    Throw every hitter in jail now.

  8. Has it really come to this? People here defending the right of gun owners to leave them in unlocked cars? The Republican Party used to be the party of personal responsibility. Not anymore apparently.

    Irresponsible gun owners who leave their guns in unlocked cars or where toddlers can reach them are not “victims,” except of their own stupidity. The Sioux Falls police go on tv once a week and tell people to lock their cars because guns are being stolen from unlocked cars. Then next week it happens again. Some people shouldn’t own guns. Some people are not responsible enough. Let us stop coddling these non-victims and making excuses for their decision to make it easy for thieves to pilfer their firearms.

  9. So would Start like to see Eric Holder and Barack Obama liable for the deaths that resulted from “Fast and Furious”?

      1. “Fast and Furious” started (Starr? 😉 (jk)) under Bush43, however.

        But regardless, “Fast and Furious” is just further proof that stolen guns are a problem and the problem starts (?) with the legitimate gun owners…

  10. We are really talking about gun owners that are more afraid getting locked out of their vehicle than having their gun stolen. If the value of their firearm or the thought of it ending up in the wrong hands isn’t enough deterrent to lock their vehicle, adding criminal prosecution will just ensure that the theft will go unreported.

  11. So now I will be required to lock MY vehicle if MY gun is inside so SOMEONE ELSE doesn’t STEAL it? Blaming the victim always works so well…

    1. You make a great point, Matt. I never, ever leave my truck unsecured. It’s not because I (often) transport firearms. I lock my truck because I don’t want it stolen! But the sad truth is that criminals can “spoof” electronic locks with a $200 device available on the dark web. Robbers hit a few buttons, tune the frequency (or whatever it’s called) and then, with a little click, truck doors unlock, and crooks steal whatever they want. They can do the same to your hotel room door, BTW. If this stupid ordinance passes, within one month, a hunter will be cited for (supposedly) leaving his truck unlocked with a new benelli shotgun inside. He’ll swear up and down he locked the truck — and he’ll be telling the truth — but he’ll be cited anyway. How can he prove he locked it? Then, when the stolen shotgun is used to murder someone, a horde of greedy plaintiff’s lawyers arrive, suing that ‘deplorable’ hunter for gross negligence…

      1. You’re asking “Why wouldn’t you just leave your truck unlocked, since thieves with a $200 device can rob it anytime?”

        Fair question. Not every single thief can spoof the locks. I usually travel with a Scooters coffee. Leave the truck open, a thirsty Hobo might guzzle it. I have some of my kids’ artworks in there — crayon drawings of cowboys, Jedi, castles & firetrucks. I don’t need a meth-addicted vagrant using ’em for toilet paper, so I keep the doors locked. There may be some ink pens, screwdrivers, flashlight, Swiss army knife. But generally nothing with a $2500 street value, like a sweet new shotgun. Warning: if you park downtown & leave your Rolex on the dash, it’ll disappear quick, genius, locked doors or no. Just the world in which we live. You’ll probably tell me it’s all Trump’s fault, or maybe Bush…

  12. Anyone who has a lethal weapon removed from their unsecured vehicle is not a victim of anything other than their own stupidity. Honest to god, the party of personal responsibility has become an absolute joke. Why do responsible gun owners ALWAYS stick up for people who are inviting trouble with their own carelessness? Demand responsibility and care for pete’s sake! A kid could easily remove a gun from an unlocked vehicle and kill themselves — is the death penalty really an appropriate punishment for being young and curious if you remove a weapon from an open door?

    1. How about everyone having enough PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY not to steal other people’s things?

      1. You’re a real critical thinker, Matt. Do you think there should be any requirement whatsoever to secure firearms? Or in your opinion is it OK for all firearms to be accessible at all times?

        1. Responsibility? Of course. But why am I responsible for someone else’s actions? That does not take critical thinking (I ain’t that bright to begin with). And yes, it is OK for all firearms accessible at all times.

  13. This idea from the same people who blamed the victim Monica Lewinsky, gave us Fast & Furious, and think policing where crime is located is “racial profiling.”

    It really shouldn’t be a surprise.

    1. con·jec·ture
      an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information.
      “conjectures about the newcomer were many and varied”
      synonyms: speculation, guesswork, surmise, fancy, presumption, assumption, theory, postulation, supposition; More

  14. Mike,

    Ironic and hilarious you reference critical thinking. What is your goal? I assume it is to prevent guns from getting into the hands of bad people. I also assume you aren’t taking this position to just tilt at windmills.

    A critical thinker would quickly come to the conclusion this is flat-out moronic proposal. I know it makes you feel good but I don’t care about your feelings, especially when the consequences of accommodating your feelings are bad.

    1) To “catch” someone under this law, it requires self-incrimination (I had a gun in my car I left unlocked). How many people do you know who admit to speeding until they see the radar gun or anything else? How many people do you know who admit to texting until confronted with the evidence from the cell tower? It flat out will do nothing. Anybody with an ounce of critical thinking skills would realize it.

    2) There is public safety value knowing there was a gun taken. Since you don’t seem to be able to figure things out on your own, I’ll take the time to explain this. A criminal who has committed a robbery and is in possession of a gun is now a threat to the police who might apprehend him and others. Since the victim of the theft is not going to self-incriminate himself, the police will not have this information.

    3) We have literally hundreds of laws on the books that makes morons who can’t think critically feel better but either does no good or often does harm. It is time we stop accommodating your feelings that either gives you the false sense something has done when nothing has been done or does real harm. You need to come out of your little snowflake cloud and face reality. We did you no favors when we let you live in your deluded mind. We are finally going to make you live in the real world.

    4) In this country, our first impulse is not to criminalize stupidity or carelessness. We inform the people of the problem to get improved results. Gunowners do not desire their gun getting stolen and certainly don’t desire it to get in the wrong hands. It is impossible to pass enough laws against people who do stupid and careless things so I don’t propose any selective criminalization of your stupidity. See #3. I just want you to use your God-given mind a bit more critically.

  15. Troy is 100% right and (almost) every cop agrees; our laws must encourage citizens to report gun thefts. When there’s a risk of being charged, some victims decline to report crimes.

    One potential cure: the law could provide that if, within 7 days of the theft, a citizen reports (to the police) the gun or guns stolen from her vehicle, she cannot be charged for failure to secure her vehicle.

    That proviso wouldn’t fix every problem, but it addresses one critical flaw.

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