Senator Chuck Schumer wants the Department of Justice to target states with lax gun laws in order to better track firearms flowing illegally into New York City and Long Island as gun violence keeps plaguing the Big Apple.
“The DOJ is to be commended for its good work and effort to address illegal guns here in New York and the other four cities. But the DOJ must also expand their footprint with this strike force plan to include states and regions that feed the gun problem in New York,” Schumer said in a statement Sunday, June 27. “Gun traffickers in Eastern seaboard states like Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia are exporting hundreds of illegal guns to New York every year, and it has to stop—because those out-of-state guns are used on our streets in violent crimes.”
The Justice Department is set to deploy a firearms trafficking “strike force” to New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., within the next month to stem the flow of illegal guns used in shootings and other violent crimes.
While crime overall is slightly down in the city compared to the last two years, shootings remain at high numbers compared to pre-pandemic, according to the latest NYPD crime stats.
There were 46 shooting incidents with 56 victims from June 14-20. The numbers mark a decrease from the same time last year of 20.7% fewer incidents and 28.2% fewer victims, but they also reflect a more than 100% rise compared to 2019.
The DOJ’s scheme is led by local federal prosecutors in collaboration with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) and state and local law enforcement, focusing the sale-to-crime pipeline of guns.
Hundreds of guns come to the Empire State from other states with softer gun laws each year, and Schumer called on the strike force to focus on pressure those jurisdictions to enforce local reporting requirements, data collection, and background checks to help stem the “iron pipeline,” adding that he supports further funding for the Bureau.
“With the right strategy, the right federal pressure on export states and my personal commitment to provide ATF with much needed funding, the feds can burst the iron pipeline plaguing New York in a lasting way, and that is what we want,” the Senate Majority Leader said.
According to 2019 data from ATF, at least 474 guns in New York originated in Virginia, 420 originated in South Carolina and another 550 came from Georgia.
Over a five-year period from 2015-2019, 330,350 traced guns, or 28%, recovered in a different state from where they were sold, with just 10 states with loose laws on firearms accounting for half of those, according to a report by the gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.
The study also found that more than one-in-three guns traced during that time were used in a crime within three years of their sale, indicating they were bought for criminal use.
“We have a small handful of states feeding the New York supply, and the strike force has to have a laser focus on those regions and states if we are going to finally tackle the trafficking problem that hits home all too often,” Schumer said.