Criminals will no longer get a slap on the wrist for stealing firearms in Kansas.
A new law takes effect Monday making it a felony crime instead of a misdemeanor.
Before Monday, if someone stole a firearm that costs less than $1,000, they would be charged with a misdemeanor. Now, anyone who steals a gun, knowingly possesses a stolen gun or knowingly deprives someone of a firearm will be charged with a felony.
"Career criminals want them and they get them by stealing them or buying stolen weapons. So why not make the penalties stiffer?" said Lansing Police Chief Steve Wayman.
Wayman said some Kansas gun theft laws were too lenient, so he proposed harsher penalties to the Leavenworth County Attorney.
"If you steal a firearm that is valued under $1,000 it's the same as if you went in and stole a can of Coke," he said of the old law.
Starting July 1, no matter the price of the gun, thieves will be charged with a level nine felony. The new law also makes it a level five aggravated burglary if thieves intend to steal a firearm.
"Stolen firearms are used in a lot of crimes so it's an issue everywhere you go. Will this stop everyone? No. Will it deter some people from doing it? Yeah," Wayman said.
He said guns stolen in Kansas have been recovered in Florida and California. Under the new gun theft law, if someone is convicted of stealing a firearm, they will no longer be able to purchase guns because they will be convicted of a felony.
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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