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Post date: October 27 2016

A.G. Schneiderman And Western New York Law Enforcement Leaders Stand Together In Fight Against Illegal Guns

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

October 27, 2016

New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060
Albany Press Office / 518-473-5525
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman


First-Of-Its-Kind Analysis Released This Week Shows That In Buffalo 59% Of Recovered Guns Originated Out-Of-State And 78% Of All Handguns Came From Out-Of-State 

New Report, “Target on Trafficking,” And Interactive Tool Show How New York’s Strong Gun Laws Are Undermined By Lax Laws In Iron Pipeline States 

Just 6% Of Possessors Were Also The Original Purchaser Of Recovered Guns In Buffalo 

BUFFALO – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman stood today with Western New York law enforcement leaders in the state’s fight against illegal guns to highlight the release of a first-of-its-kind analysis of tens of thousands of “crime guns” recovered by law enforcement, illustrating gun trafficking trends that undermine New York’s strong laws.

The ground-breaking analysis shows that 74 percent of all crime guns recovered by law enforcement originated out-of-state, and nearly nine out of ten (86 percent) of recovered handguns come from out-of-state. In Buffalo in particular, 59 percent of recovered guns originated out-of-state (with the largest number of out-of-state guns originating from Ohio); 78 percent of all recovered handguns in Buffalo came from out-of-state.

The report released this week, “Target on Trafficking: Analysis of New York Crime Guns,” and the new interactive tool examine the purchase history of the nearly 53,000 crime guns recovered by law enforcement in New York between 2010 and 2015. A crime gun is any gun connected to a crime that is recovered by law enforcement.

“The gun violence epidemic has touched the lives of far too many Buffalo families,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement and other local leaders to put a spotlight on illegal guns pouring into Buffalo from out of state. With this new gun trafficking data we have released, police and community leaders have a powerful new tool in our fight to rid our state of illegal guns.”

“The Niagara Falls Police Department is committed to getting illegal guns off our streets,” said Superintendent Bryan DalPorto. “We appreciate the Attorney General’s willingness to dive into the data, and report on gun trafficking trends. In order to eliminate gun violence, law enforcement needs to continue to work together.”

“Reducing gun violence remains a top priority for the Buffalo Police Department,” said Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda. “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s report and Tracing Analytics Platform will assist in our effort, and we thank him for his support.”

The Attorney General’s office is the first statewide law enforcement agency to obtain and analyze such comprehensive crime gun data provided by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The analysis showed sweeping and important trends in gun recoveries, particularly with regard to how out-of-state guns are flooding into New York from the “Iron Pipeline” -- states with lax guns laws along the I-95 corridor, namely Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida – as well as from Ohio. These findings offer significant policy implications and context for state and national leaders striving to reduce gun trafficking and violence.

“Attorney General Schneiderman’s new report makes it clear that we urgently need to make gun trafficking a federal crime,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “Gun trafficking is recognized all around, by both parties, as a major source of fuel for American gun violence, yet there is still no federal law that prevents someone from crossing state lines with a truckload of guns and selling them to criminals in a parking lot. As long as gun trafficking is not a federal crime, it will continue to be shamefully easy for criminals to get their hands on these weapons, and law enforcement won’t have the tools they need to prosecute traffickers and remove these illegal guns from the black market. My gun trafficking bill is one of the only gun bills that has bipartisan support – and this is despite the efforts of the gun industry and its powerful lobby to protect their own profits and stop us. The American people are demanding that Congress respond to the gun violence crisis, and my bipartisan gun trafficking bill is an important part of that response.”

“Each trace represents the life of a crime gun, and together these data tell a crucial story – both about how guns make their way to criminals, and about how law enforcement can crack down on gun trafficking,” said John Feinblatt, President, Everytown for Gun Safety. “Communities across the state are devastated by handguns that come up the Iron Pipeline from states with weak laws. The Attorney General’s report shows the power of bringing data together, and we hope that law enforcement elsewhere take note.” 

“This report provides an unprecedented look at the flow of illegal guns into New York and offers a stark illustration of the challenge faced by states like New York whose strong gun laws are undermined by a lax approach to this issue taken by other states,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President of Guns & Crime Policy, Center for American Progress. “This is the most comprehensive analysis of statewide crime gun trace data to date and provides invaluable information to law enforcement, policymakers, and community stakeholders seeking to prevent gun violence across the state. We are hopeful that other states will follow the example of this report and conduct a similar analysis to continue shining a light on the illegal trafficking networks currently operating in this country.”

“This important new report gives our lawmakers even more evidence that when enacted, smart, responsible gun laws work: they reduce crime and protect communities. As Attorney General Schneiderman has shown with this report, the Washington gun lobby's oft-repeated canard that gun laws are ineffective is just that. This report also shows the need for our lawmakers in Washington to do more to combat the illegal gun trade, and the consequences of making it easy for criminals to traffic firearms from a state with weak gun laws into one with stronger laws. Gabby and I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for his continued leadership on preventing gun violence,” said Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions

As part of this week’s announcement, Attorney General Schneiderman also released the Tracing Analytics Platform, a powerful and publicly available online tool that empowers members of the public to dive into the data themselves, analyzing gun trends by region, year, gun type, time-to-crime, and other factors. The tool’s interactive features also enable New York law enforcement, lawmakers, and residents to explore the gun trafficking patterns occurring in their individual communities.

The findings in the new report include:

  • 52,915 Total Gun Recoveries
    • New York State law enforcement agencies recovered 52,915 firearms between 2010-2015. In the most recent year of data, 2015, New York recovered 7,827 guns.
  • Only 6% Of Guns Were Recovered From a Possessor Who Was Also The Original Purchaser
    • Only 3,208 guns were recovered from a possessor who was also the original purchaser of the gun. About half of these were low time-to-crime guns.
  • 74% of All Recovered Guns Total (handguns, rifles, etc) Originated Out-of-State
    • 34,344 of the 46,514 recovered guns with a known purchase state originated outside of New York — well above the national average. Over half of these guns originated in Iron Pipeline states.
  • 86% of Recovered Handguns Came From Out-of-State
    • Nearly 9 out of 10 recovered handguns, the weapon of choice for violent criminals, came from out-of-state.
  • 57% of All Recovered Guns Were Out-of-State Handguns
    • For all the guns recovered in New York State, over half belong to a single category: out-of-state handguns. Handguns are known as the weapon of choice among violent criminals.
  • New York has a low per-capita rate of gun recovery
    • With 39.5 recoveries per 100,000 people in 2015, New York had half the per-capita recoveries than the national per-capita average (84 per 100,000 people).
  • But New York has a very high rate of out-of-state gun recoveries
    • A strong majority of crime guns originated out-of-state in 2015 (75%), more than double the national average (29%) of out-of-state sources of crime guns.
  • 1 in 5 Recovered Guns Were “Recently Trafficked”
    • Of the 30,595 guns for which we have complete data, 6,162 exhibited indicia of recent trafficking into New York.

In Erie County, guns come in from Ohio much more readily than in other parts of the state.

  • 4,509 Total Gun Recoveries
  • 59% of Recovered Guns Were From Out-of-State
  • 78% of Handguns Were From Out-of-State
  • 94% of Guns That Were Likely-Trafficked to Buffalo Were Handguns

While Niagara County had far fewer gun recoveries overall, their obtainment of guns is very similar to Buffalo:

  • 746 Total Gun Recoveries
  • 54%, Or Over Half, of Guns Recovered Came From Out-of-State
  • 78% of Handguns Were From Out-of-State
  • Handguns made up more than 85 % of the likely trafficked guns in the county

As the second largest market for crime guns in New York State, Buffalo and neighboring Niagara Falls (Erie and Niagara Counties) together recovered 5,255 crime guns (10%) of total statewide recoveries. Buffalo also has the second highest number of low time-to-crime recoveries (605) and likely-trafficked guns (424).

Buffalo recovered 3,076 handguns, making it the third largest market for handguns in the State, with handguns making up 59% of recoveries in the market. Erie County showed a high per capita recovery rate of 82 guns per 100,000 residents, with Niagara lower at 58 per 100,000.

Five zip codes (14215, 14211, 14213, 14207, 14212) accounted for almost 50% of the region's recoveries, or 2,476 guns. These recoveries were located in or around the City of Buffalo and had a slightly higher average out-of-state percentage than the rest of the market.

In addition to unprecedented data on trafficking patterns, the Attorney General’s report also provides key policy recommendations to deal with the trafficking challenges faced by New York State, including:

  • Congress should require universal background checks and close the “gun show loophole.”
  • Congress should make gun trafficking a federal crime; there is currently no comprehensive law that criminalizes each stage of illegal gun trafficking.
  • Congress should expand access to aggregate trace data so non-law enforcement actors can analyze crime gun data to make more informed decisions about gun laws and law enforcement strategies.
  • States should require licenses to own handguns.
  • New York should pass the Gun Kingpin Bill to punish traffickers so severely (up to 25 years to life in prison) that the business becomes too risky a proposition.

This report was prepared by Senior Advisor and Special Counsel Nicholas Suplina, Director of Research and Analytics Lacey Keller, and Data Scientist Meredith McCarron.

Special thanks to Deputy Attorney General Peri Kadanoff, Chief of the Organized Crime Task Force, the Executive Division’s Research and Analytics Department, and the OAG Web Team for their assistance preparing the report. Additional thanks to ATF’s New York Field Office and National Tracing Center for their assistance in obtaining the data used in this report. 

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