PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is launching a new program to trace guns used in crimes.
He calls it Track + Trace, an effort with state, federal, and local law enforcement agencies to trace all guns used in a crime.
“It’s an initiative that is smart, collaborative, and data-driven in order to decrease gun trafficking and illegal transfers and to take gun crimes out of our neighborhoods across Pittsburgh and across Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said at a press conference Friday at Pittsburgh Police Headquarters.
Flanked by U.S. Attorney Scott Brady and Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert, Shapiro said the program is two-tiered.
First, it encourages all gun retailers to use the electronic method of reporting gun sales to state police, as required by law, rather than the mailed-in method used by too many gun shops.
“It adds time, creates backlog, and it holds up investigations all across Pennsylvania,” Shapiro said.
“This inhibits the ability of law enforcement to quickly trace guns required at crime scenes, determine where they came from, who purchased them, and how they became weapons in a crime,” Shapiro added.
Second, Shapiro says while state law requires local police to identify the source of the gun used in a crime, most do not share that info with the other 1,200 law enforcement agencies across the state.
“I think there are a lot of agencies that are not aware of what the law is and aren’t aware of how easy it is, technically speaking, to input this information into the database.”
Up until recently that included the city of Pittsburgh.
“We do roughly 800 or 900 guns a year through e-Trace, but what we weren’t doing — and a lot of other agencies weren’t doing — is sharing that information,” Schubert said.
That’s now changed, said Schubert, with Brady noting that better data will help them prosecute.
Shapiro insists that these efforts should not offend Second Amendment or gun control advocates.
He said it’s a matter of better law enforcement.
Eighty percent of the guns used in crimes are stolen, so the ability to track and trace their ownership is critical.
The Attorney General also says gun owners have a responsibility to keep their firearms under lock. And if they are stolen, to report that immediately to the police.