HARRISBURG – Following last summer’s launch, Attorney General Josh Shapiro today is issuing a report card on his Track + Trace initiative showcasing major progress on the Commonwealth’s fight against gun trafficking and crime gun pipelines. This comes days after a major bi-state partnership utilizing data sharing and cross-agency intelligence led to breaking up a crime gun pipeline, taking 36 guns off the streets of Philadelphia and Camden.
Track + Trace is a collaborative effort led by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office to improve law enforcement’s ability to track crime guns. By encouraging state and local law enforcement agencies to log these weapons into a centralized reporting system and to agree to share intelligence with other agencies, Pennsylvania will be better able to track the guns used in crimes, trace them to their point of sale, and get them off our streets.
Since the Attorney General’s efforts began, more of Pennsylvania’s law enforcement partners are tracking their crime guns and data sharing across the state than ever before, making neighborhoods and communities safer.
“Gun violence doesn’t recognize county or state boundaries,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “Through this initiative, we are enforcing the laws that were already on the books, and we are increasing our intelligence and data by encouraging all law enforcement throughout Pennsylvania and in other states to share information and work together so we can cut off crime gun pipelines infecting our communities.
“Track + Trace is bridging a communications gap and it’s becoming an essential program that better helps those who enforce the law to monitor the flow of weapons to protect Pennsylvanians.”
Since Track + Trace began, 68 percent more law enforcement agencies across Pennsylvania are data sharing crime gun information.
In July, the number of crime gun traces viewable through data sharing was only about 6,600. It has now skyrocketed 658 percent to 50,497 viewable traces this month.
In addition to increasing tracking crime guns, another key part of Track + Trace is helping gun retailers use the Pennsylvania State Police’s electronic record of sale system, or eRecord, rather than relying on the old paper-based system. eRecord allows for instantaneous information upload to give law enforcement better access to data they need when investigating crime guns. This will ultimately eliminate any lag time between gun purchases and those purchases being logged into a searchable system.
“This joint initiative once again demonstrates ATF’s dedication to working with our state, local and federal partners in identifying, targeting, and investigating violent criminals who divert guns from the lawful market to the black market,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson. “We will continue to work with our partners at the Attorney General’s Office and all of our local, state and federal partners in targeting those who illegally possess and use firearms, as well as those who arm violent offenders and street gangs with firearms.”
“It is imperative that law enforcement have the resources and tools at their fingertips to stop crime guns and gun pipelines from existing across our Commonwealth,” said Fairview Township Police Chief Jason C. Loper of York County, who is also a member of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association Board of Directors. “We are glad the Attorney General has spearheaded Track + Trace to get all of us talking to one another and sharing information to make our communities safer.”
The Attorney General said the number of major gun dealers in Pennsylvania using eRecord has dramatically increased. Prior to Track + Trace, only three of the top 15 retailers were using eRecord of sale and none of the top five dealers. Today, seven of the top 15 – and two of the top five – are using eRecord.
“These early results are impressive: Track + Trace is doing exactly what we designed this initiative to do,” Shapiro said. “We now have access to the best intelligence and data to combat gun trafficking. We have more work to do to get more law enforcement agencies working together, but we are making great progress.”
Since Track + Trace’s launch, the Office of Attorney General has created other initiatives to combat gun violence in Pennsylvania. The Attorney General provided a grant to Operation LIPSTICK to educate women in Philadelphia, in collaboration with the local nonprofit Mothers In Charge, about the dangers of making gun purchases on behalf of prohibited purchasers; the Office also issued a legal opinion with Gov. Tom Wolf that made clear that background checks are necessary for people who purchase 80% receivers to make what are commonly called “ghost guns.”
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