New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, along with various officials in his administration, announced yesterday the largest seizure of illegal firearms in city history. The investigation resulted in the seizure of 254 illegal guns – including high-capacity assault weapons, a fully-automatic machine gun and various handguns – as well as in 16 arrests in New York City, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Nineteen people have been charged in total.

The investigation uncovered a large operation that sought to traffic guns from North and South Carolina to New York City. Gun laws in the Carolinas are comparatively weak – for instance, there is no mandatory reporting requirement in either state for lost or stolen firearms – making it easier for criminals and traffickers to obtain guns. In 2011, North and South Carolina respectively ranked second and third in a list of top out-of-state origins of recovered and traced illegal firearms in New York City.

“New York is the safest big city in the nation, but year after year, illegal guns flow into our city from states that don’t have common-sense laws that keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “There is no doubt that the seizure of these guns – the largest bust in the city’s history – has saved lives. For that reason, every New Yorker, in every part of our city, owes a debt of thanks to all those involved in this investigation.”

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