ERIE – Saying too many people are dying from gun violence, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Thursday the launch of the Office of Attorney General’s Pennsylvania Track + Trace Initiative.
Track + Trace takes a collaborative, data-driven approach to attempt to decrease gun trafficking and illegal transfers and trying to ensure illegal guns are taken out of neighborhoods across Pennsylvania, Shapiro said.
“Gun violence is killing 1,500 Pennsylvanians on average each year,” Shapiro said. “It touches all of us – from daily shooting in our cities and towns, to rising suicides in our communities. As Attorney General, it is my responsibility to enforce the laws on the books while addressing the systematic issues that are fueling this crisis. Our new Pennsylvania Track + Trace Initiative is designed to do just that by investigating how prohibited purchasers obtain firearms and strategically shutting down those pipelines.”
He did not say how his initiative would reduce suicides by gun.
Shapiro broke the initiative down to four levels of responsibility.
He said law enforcement is required by law to identify a crime gun’s source with tracing info from the ATF, yet most crime guns are not submitted to shared law enforcement databases. The Office of Attorney General will ensure crime guns recovered in its own operations are uploaded efficiently and will facilitate conversations with local police departments to ensure data input is occurring across the Commonwealth. The Office will also form the Track + Trace Working Group, a collaborative partnership of federal, state & local law enforcement that will focus on increasing information sharing and other gun trafficking efforts.
Shapiro said gun retailers need to increase the use of electronic record of sale to allow law enforcement to quickly trace guns found on crime scenes or in the hands of criminals. Pennsylvania law requires retailers to obtain a record of sale, but most currently use paper records that must be mailed, creating a backlog and holding up investigations.
He said consumers are unaware of the consequences of transferring a gun without following applicable laws. The Office will educate consumers on these dangers with public outreach by utilizing the resources of its Office of Public Engagement and engaging with advocacy groups.
In addition, Shapiro said Pennsylvania law requires locking devices on all handguns sold by retailers. The Office will elevate the importance of safe storage throughout the Commonwealth.
The Track + Trace program is an expansion of the Office of Attorney General’s existing efforts to combat illegal guns in Pennsylvania. Working with the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Philadelphia Police Department, the Gun Violence Task Force in Philadelphia targets illegal guns and firearms by investigating gun trafficking, straw purchases and the movement of illegal guns.