State to bet­ter track guns used in crimes as vi­o­lence soars

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Marc Levy

HARRISBURG, PA. >> The Penn­syl­va­nia at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice launched an ef­fort Thurs­day to im­prove the use of firearms data­bases, so law en­force­ment can bet­ter track guns used in crimes and, ul­ti­mately, clamp down on gun vi­o­lence.

The move comes amid a surge in such vi­o­lence in Philadelph­ia. The city’s rate of homi­cides this year is about the same as it was in 2018, when Philadelph­ia recorded 349 of them, the most since 2007.

Speak­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Erie, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro said he wants po­lice de­part­ments to en­ter serial num­bers from ev­ery gun used in a crime or seized by po­lice into a law-en­force­ment data­base so that its orig­i­nal seller can be iden­ti­fied.

Most such guns aren’t be­ing en­tered, as the law re­quires, he said. Penn­syl­va­nia is one of few states with that kind of law.

“We ac­tu­ally have no idea how many crime guns were re­cov­ered in Penn­syl­va­nia last year, and that makes us all less safe,” Shapiro said.

Most guns used in crimes

change hands mul­ti­ple times, and a small num­ber of firearms are used in a large num­ber of crimes, Shapiro said.

Shapiro also said his of­fice wants re­tail­ers to sub­mit gun-sale records elec­tron­i­cally to get rid of a po­lice back­log of pa­per records that are wait­ing to be

en­tered into a data­base.

That will al­low law en­force­ment to more quickly trace guns used in crimes, Shapiro said.

One source of the guns is the theft of le­gal guns from homes and ve­hi­cles, and part of the ini­tia­tive will be to em­pha­size safe gun stor­age, Shapiro’s of­fice said.

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