“The issue isn't where people buy guns legally from gun shows or gun shops,” said Sgt. Ken Lattin with Kennewick Police, “the issue is they're taken illegally from someone who lawfully possessed it, that's where the guns are coming from."
In the Tri-Cities, as guns are getting pulled on innocent drivers and even an off-duty cop, it's becoming more apparent to law enforcement criminals have their sites set.
“People are targeting the locations of gun owners much more frequently, the nice days of a glass case displaying your guns are in the past," said Capt. Mike Cobb, Richland Police.
The day of the display case is gone, and now is the day of ‘Birtha’ – an eight-foot gun safe that can be purchased at Ranch and Home, in Kennewick.
Background checks are up 50 percent since last year, and officials say it’s an indicator that shows sales are through the roof. With more Americans flocking to purchase, the next item shouldn't be bullets, say cops, it should be a safe.
"It's more important than ten years ago,” said Capt. Cobb, “A gun safe is one way to keep guns from falling into illegitimate hands."
Without it, cops said one break-in can flood the market; a market that's taking place on sidewalks.
"There is a market for people who want to buy guns and don't want to go to a retailer to purchase it,” said Capt. Cobb. “They can purchase it anywhere in the mid-Columbia area.”
But cops want to remind gun owners, their biggest defense can be purchased anywhere in the Tri-Cities, too. A stockpile can be found at your local Ranch and Home.
"If you own guns, I feel the right thing to do is lock it up in a safe," said Bill Dress, owner Ranch and Home. “Is it worth it,” asked Sgt. Lattin, quickly answering his own question. “Well, what would that criminal do with the gun they stole from you? Are they going to use it to take someone's life? Then, I'd say it's worth it."
Ranch and Home said with the influx of gun purchases, the demand for safes increased. They have stock starting at $400 and going up to $14,000 for ‘Birtha.’