Guns in NYC Crime Mostly from Out-of-State Sales

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Guns in NYC Crime Mostly from Out-of-State Sales

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Of the 12,910 guns recovered from crimes from 2017 to 2023, 93 percent were linked to an initial sale outside of the state, three times higher than the national average and far exceeding second-ranked Baltimore.

New York ATF chief John B. DeVito

New York ATF chief John B. DeVito speaks during a press conference on Aug. 4, 2021, in the Bronx.

(Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS)

(TNS) — Out-of-state guns wreak far more havoc in New York City than in any other big city in America, federal data shows.

From 2017 through 2021, some 93 percent of the 12,910 guns recovered from crimes in the five boroughs were linked to an initial sale from outside the state, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says.

The percentage of out-of-state guns used in New York City crimes far exceeds that of second-place Baltimore, where 61 percent of guns used in crimes originated out of state, the ATF data shows.

New York’s problem with out-of-state guns is more than three times worse than the national average, the data shows. On average, 28 percent of firearms nationwide recovered in crimes originated across state lines.

Southern states with lax gun laws are the most common source of firearms in New York City crimes, the ATF found. Georgia was the source of 1,736 guns in New York crimes during the four-year study period. Another 1,677 guns used in crimes came from Virginia. South Carolina was in third place as the origin of 1,421 guns.

ATF Director Steven Dettelbach said the startling figures came to light when the Biden administration ordered up a gun trafficking analysis as part of its attempt to figure out how to better deal with firearm violence.

Dettelbach, speaking at a Citizens Crime Commission breakfast in Manhattan earlier this month, lamented the steady drumbeat of mass shootings across the country and said he he worries Americans will come to accept as part of life gun violence and the trafficking of illegal guns.

“My biggest fear as a director, as a father, as a former prosecutor, a lawyer and an American is that somehow we’ll become numb to it — that we’ll kind of accept there’s nothing we can do about it and that…it’s part of somehow being an American,” Dettelbach said. “That would be a disaster if that happened.”

Dettelbach said the gun origin data should be used to build criminal cases that stop the flow of guns into the city. Many guns used in New York City crimes are brought to the city by runners who buy them in bulk in the south and drive them north along Interstate 95 — a system law enforcement calls the Iron Pipeline.

John DeVito, the special agent who runs ATF’s New York office, said he was not surprised by the 93 percent figure, given improved tracing methods that took effect in 2019 that cut down on the number of guns for which an original purchase cannot not be determined.

DeVito said New York’s gun laws, among the strictest in the nation, and the sheer size of the city, with almost half its population under the age of 34 and many with strong familial links to southern states, make for an ideal black market.

“You can make a profit relatively easily,” DeVito said.

David Kennedy, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said five federal gun trafficking strike forces set up last year to combat the flow of guns from states with loose gun laws to states like New York with stricter rules are a significant step in dealing with the problem.

But Kennedy said the National Rifle Association’s sway over Congress stifles significant gun control measures.

‘’Drug sales are not in and of themselves violent but we give that market an enormous amount of attention,” Kennedy said. “Historically, we’ve given the illicit market of firearms almost no attention.

“Happily, we’re starting to come back from that a little bit,” Kennedy added. “But there’s been decades of a lot of lost opportunity — and a lot of dead people.”

©2023 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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