AG Shapiro Launches Track + Trace Initiative Targeting Gun Violence in Pennsylvania

July 11, 2019 | Topic: Criminal

Collaborative, statewide initiative uses data-driven approach to decrease gun trafficking and illegal transfers

ERIE — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced the launch of the Office of Attorney General’s Pennsylvania Track + Trace Initiative. Track + Trace takes a collaborative, data-driven approach to decreasing gun trafficking and illegal transfers and ensuring illegal guns are taken out of neighborhoods across Pennsylvania.

“Gun violence is killing 1500 Pennsylvanians on average each year,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “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.”

  1. Law Enforcement Responsibility: Pennsylvania requires law enforcement 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 top-tier, collaborative partnership of federal, state & local law enforcement that will focus on increasing information sharing and other gun trafficking efforts.
  2. Gun Retailer Responsibility: The Office will work with gun retailers to increase the use of electronic record of sale, a modern and smart tool that will 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.
  3. Consumer Responsibility: Many Pennsylvanians 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.
  4. Gun Owner Responsibility: Pennsylvania law requires locking devices on all handguns sold by retailers. Still, household guns that are not safely stored or are left unlocked greatly increase the risk of suicide, unintentional shootings, and theft. 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. The Office’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigation also recovered 390 illegal guns statewide during drug busts in 2018, and every single gun they’ve recovered has been traced back to the moment it went from a legal gun to an illegal gun. Track + Trace will expand the great successes of the Gun Violence Task Force and Bureau of Narcotics Investigations into to a first-of-its-kind, collaborative, statewide initiative.

“Track + Trace is focused on combating the everyday gun violence that is devastating our communities and families,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro. “If tracing crime guns can prevent one mother from burying her child, one person from buying a gun on behalf of a criminal, or assist one agency in figuring out how guns in the community are ending up in the hands of criminals, then we will have made progress for the people of Pennsylvania.”

More information about Track + Trace can be found at

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