Police in Cottonwood Heights are searching for an assault rifle that was stolen Wednesday from the vehicle of a top Utah gun lobbyist, who called for more guns in schools after the shooting deaths of 20 children in Connecticut last year.

Utah Shooting Sports Council Chairman Clark Aposhian told KSTU that he was cleaning out his garage and placed the firearm in the back of his Dodge Magnum station wagon. He said the AR-15 military-style assault rifle was in a locked case and equipped with a thermal scope for night vision. Aposhian insisted the gun was not loaded at the time.

"To leave a weapon of that value, an assault rifle, in a car is just nuts," Cottonwood Heights Police Department Sgt. Scott Peck observed.

Peck fears that the weapon, which is registered, is on the streets of Cottonwood Heights.

“We definitely have a concern,” he explained. “There’s lots of them everywhere and we know there’s another one out there and it’s in the hands of a thief obviously.”

Alliance for a Better Utah Executive Director Maryann Martindale, who opposes an Aposhian-backed bill to allow Utah gun owners to conceal weapons without a permit, said that the lobbyist should have known better.

"It’s pretty shocking, this is a guy whose livelihood is built teaching conceal and carry permit classes and gun safety," Martindale pointed out to KSTU. “He’s someone who’s always talking about what people do and this is how people carry them and take care of their weapons. I’m a gun owner, I know where my gun is, it’s got a trigger lock, it’s unloaded and in a lock box in my house.”

Just days after the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Aposhian told CNN that the Utah Shooting Sports Council was sponsoring free gun classes for teaches because the answer to school violence was more guns in the classroom.

"It’s why we put fire extinguishers and medical kits in classrooms," he said.

Watch this video from KTSU, broadcast March 28, 2013.

[Photo: Facebook]