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Friday, September 22, 2023

Councilors target flow of guns into Boston

Facing down the latest mass shooting, the Boston City Council is quickly moving on an ordinance that would task police with compiling annual data on firearms trafficking, a measure aimed at cutting down on gun violence.

The ordinance, discussed at a Monday morning hearing of the government operations committee, is listed as “matters recently heard for possible action,” on the Wednesday City Council meeting agenda.

Council President Ed Flynn, who co-sponsored the ordinance, said it is modeled in part, after a similar measure that was passed in New York City last year.

“From community violence to domestic violence to violence against oneself, guns remain a particularly dangerous weapon of choice,” Councilor Brian Worrell, the other co-sponsor, said. “This data is critical for policymakers and law enforcement to do their jobs and keep our community safe.

“We cannot continue to sit idly by while our communities are repeatedly traumatized by violence, mainly because the weapon was purchased beyond our jurisdiction.”

While Worrell said Massachusetts and New England generally have strong gun laws, the actions taken there to staunch gun trafficking and violence are undermined by states with less restrictive laws.

According to the ordinance, only 10% of firearms recovered at city crime scenes in 2021 were purchased in Massachusetts, while the rest were brought into Massachusetts by 18 other states. Some are coming from “as far as Georgia and Florida,” Worrell said.

Among the data that the Boston Police Department would be required to submit to the Council and mayor, per an annual report, is whether the firearm was connected to a crime, where it originated, the date it was seized and surrendered and the date it was last sold legally, whether it was a ghost gun or created using a 3-D printer, and information on the dealer, including whether that person is registered.

Basic information, such as the make, model, type and serial number of a firearm, the manufacturer or importer of the weapon, and if it is registered in any state or federal database, would also be included in the report, if the ordinance is approved.

Ryan Walsh, deputy director of the Boston Regional Intelligence Center, the investigative arm of the city’s police department, said that while the BRIC already tracks much of the information the Council is asking for, it has limited success with tracking ghost and 3-D-printed guns.

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