The TrackBack campaign educates communities about the sources of crime guns. It focuses on how legal guns are transformed into illegal guns and, ultimately, crime guns.
We want to reduce gun violence. A key way to do that is to understand where the guns used to commit the violence are coming from. Our TrackBack program focuses on identifying the sources of crime guns so that we can stop the problem at the source. Working cooperatively with law enforcement, the program helps educate our communities through outreach and information sharing. When we know where illegal guns originate, it will be possible to develop a solution.
Why is It Important to Understand Where Crime Guns Come From?
Determining (and ultimately addressing) the sources of crime guns is critical for the health of any community. Research shows that most crime guns were originally purchased legally, not far from where they were ultimately used in a crime. But through loss, theft, or improper transfer, the guns got into the wrong hands (thus becoming illegal guns) and then were used in crimes. We want to break this cycle. We can do this–by learning where the crime guns are coming from, we can develop policies and procedures to stop the cycle.
Working with Law Enforcement
The police have critical information and the ability to determine where a gun was legally purchased. Knowing where guns originate, police can work to identify channels of gun trafficking—a real-life demonstration of the critical importance of lost and stolen reporting. When the police find a gun at a crime scene and then determine that the same gun was previously reported missing, they establish another crucial link in the chain of the gun’s transformation from legal gun to crime gun.
This is already happening for us in Pittsburgh. We want to expand that success. We want to work with police departments across the state to create maps that demonstrate the sources of these firearms—maps that can help law enforcement in their tough fight to staunch the flow of illegal guns into our streets. A partnership that uses police data to get public answers about how an illegal gun came to be used in a crime is good for our communities and good for the police.
We Need Your Help!
You can help! We need your power of the pen. When you read about a gun crime, join the voices demanding to know where that gun came from. Post on a blog. Write a letter to the editor. Call your local TV station.
The more the word spreads and the answers about the origins of illegal guns are demanded, the closer we will be to stopping the use of illegal guns in crimes.