Philadelphia

Gun Violence Task Force

Our Gun Violence Task Force - a unique collaboration between the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the Philadelphia Police Department and the the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office - is comprised of attorneys + field agents who investigate the origins of crime guns and trace them back to prevent future crimes. Straw purchasing, gun trafficking and illegal transfers are fueling the gun violence epidemic – and our communities cannot withstand this crisis.

Our message is clear: crime guns have no place in our communities - and the GVTF is our smart-on-crime plan, as law enforcement, to address it.

1,141,413

gun transfers/sales were made in PA in 2020, a 49% increase from 2019. See the 2020 PA State Police firearms report.

442,465

handguns transferred or sold in PA in 2017

3,299

firearms seized by GVTF since task force inception (as of 10/1/21)

1,871

GVTF arrests since task force inception (as of 10/1/21)

Our Track + Trace Initiative is a smart-on-crime, data-driven approach dedicated to tracing crime guns and decreasing gun trafficking and illegal transfers.

Law enforcement’s mission cannot end with solving individual gun crimes – gun trafficking and crime guns are fueling this epidemic.

By tracing firearms used in crimes, we can identify the heart of the problem. Every serial number on a firearm tells a story – we are committed to finding out where these stories begin.

Actions

  • eTrace® - Currently, 51% (595) of all PA law enforcement agencies are using eTrace, an increase of 35% from July 2019, when 40% (441) of all law enforcement agencies were using eTrace.
  • Data Sharing – Currently, 24% (143) of PA law enforcement agencies with eTrace® accounts are contributing to collective data sharing, an increase of 104% from July 2019, when 6% (70) of all PA law enforcement agencies were contributing.
  • Ensure crime guns are uploaded efficiently into shared law enforcement databases in accordance with Pennsylvania law
  • Facilitate conversations with local police departments to ensure data input is occurring across Pennsylvania
  • Form Track + Trace Working group – a top-tier, collaborative partnership of federal, state & local law enforcement that will focus on increasing information sharing and identifying trends
  • Work with gun retailers to increase use of electronic record of sale, moving away from current slow-moving paper records, to allow law enforcement to quickly trace crime guns
  • Educate Pennsylvania consumers on the consequences of serious crimes like straw purchases and illegal transfers
  • Elevate the importance of safe storage to keep guns safe from ending up in the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or others

Pennsylvania Gun Tracing Analytics Platform

The Pennsylvania Gun Tracing Analytics Platform shows aggregate data for crime gun traces for firearms recovered in Pennsylvania. This tool is intended to let you explore gun crimes and gun trafficking throughout the Commonwealth and to see where guns recovered in crimes in Pennsylvania originally came from.

A “crime gun” is any gun that is recovered as the result of the investigation of a crime. While this could mean that the gun was used to commit the crime (e.g. gunpoint robbery), it could also be recovered incidental to a crime (e.g. a firearm that was in a person’s car when they were arrested for DUI).

Crime gun traces are performed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Whenever local law enforcement recovers a crime gun, they are required by law to trace it through ATF. When ATF receives a trace request, it uses the gun’s serial number to track the gun from the original manufacturer to the initial point of sale.

View the data

Our Partners

Working together, we present a strong, united front against gun violence in Philadelphia.

ATF

ATF

Philly PD

Philly PD

FBI

FBI

PA State Police

PA State Police

Philly District Attorney

Philly DA Office

Ghost Guns

Ghost guns, or unserialized, untraceable firearms, are a growing threat to communities across our Commonwealth. Prohibited purchasers are taking advantage of loopholes to purchase gun kits that contain (80% receivers) that are easily turned into firearms. More and more of these untraceable guns are being linked to criminal activity.

To combat this growing crisis the OAG has taken a number of steps, including:

  • Issued a legal opinion that 80% receivers are firearms under PA law, ensuring that anyone purchasing these types of firearms must pass a background check.
  • Led a coalition of 18 states to call on Attorney General Garland and the ATF to update rulemaking to close this loophole at the federal level and require background checks for sales of all 80 percent receivers
  • Reached an agreement with Pennsylvania’s largest gun show operator to ban sales of ghost gun kits
  • Stepped up surveillance and enforcement efforts at gun shows

In 2018, just 12 ghost guns were confiscated by Philadelphia police. In 2020, that number increased twenty-fold to 250, and so far in 2021, 370 have been taken off the streets.

2021 data as of 9/1/21

In the Press

Washington Post

Lying to buy a gun? Don't worry about the feds

September 11, 2018

That raises this question from Avery Gardiner, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: “If it's official DOJ policy to enforce existing gun laws, why isn't the government following its own policy?” Pennsylvania, by comparison, makes Sam look like a real slacker.

Read the full article

Gun Dealers in Pennsylvania

PSP Report

2020 Pennsylvania State Police Firearms Annual Report

Read the Report

Pennsylvania Firearm Reciprocity Laws

PA Gun Laws

Glossary of Terms

Electronic Record of Sale

Pennsylvania State Police System that allows for record of sale paperwork to be completed online at FFL.

FFL

Federal Firearms License: license issued by ATF to an individual or business that sells, makes or imports firearms. In Pennsylvania, transfers of handguns (except for antique firearms and between family members) require parties to complete transaction through an FFL.

PICS

Pennsylvania Instant Check System: Pennsylvania’s background check system run by the state police. This system provides instant access to records to determine if the person is eligible to acquire a firearm or license to carry. The Instant Check Unit is a call center conducting the background check requests.

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NICS

National Instant Criminal Background Check System: Administered by the FBI, allows FFLs to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms. NICS is located in Clarksburg, West Virginia and is available via a toll-free telephone number or electronically on the Internet through the NICS E-Check System to request a background check.

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Age to purchase

In Pennsylvania, twenty one to purchase a firearm/handgun and eighteen to purchase long gun (rifle, shotgun).

Straw Purchase

Buying a gun for someone who is prohibited by law from possessing one OR Illegal transaction in which a person without a criminal record purchases a firearm at a prohibited persons request and then illegally transfers the firearm to the prohibited person.

Long gun/gun show loophole

A term used by some to describe the lack of a background check necessity for the transfer of a long gun (rifles, shotguns) between private parties in Pennsylvania.

License to carry

Required in Pennsylvania to carry concealed firearm on your person or in a vehicle. Read More

UFA

Uniform Firearms Act: Criminal Code Title 18, Chapter 61, Pennsylvania laws governing firearms. Read More

Prohibited person/Illegal owner

In Pennsylvania, there are 37 crimes for which a conviction would prohibit a person from lawfully purchasing or possessing a firearm. Convictions are not the only things that can prohibit a person from purchase or possession (ie fugitive from justice, illegal alien, open protection from abuse).