Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Attorney general report shows 74% of firearms used in New York crimes were bought in states with weak gun laws

October 26, 2016

As published by the NY Daily News on October 25, 2016.

A new report proves what has long been suspected — the bulk of gun crimes committed in New York involve weapons that originated from out of state.

And even more frightening is how quickly they make it to New York.

Thousands of guns between 2010 and the end of 2015 found their way to the Big Apple and other parts of the state within a year of their last known purchase. And thousands more within three years, the report by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office says.

Of the 30,606 guns found with complete transaction histories, law enforcement officials recovered 5,873 within three years of the last known recorded purchase, including 2,437 within one year.

And a hefty one-in-five guns recovered after use in crimes were recently trafficked into New York.

The low “time-to-crime” number, the report says, is a strong indication that the weapons were purchased “with the intent to be diverted to criminal use.”

In New York City, 91% of the low “time-to-crime” guns originated out-of-state, the analysis found. That’s the largest percentage in the state. Long Island came in second at 58%.

Schneiderman’s office pointed to a Buffalo murder where a 9-mm. pistol was recovered in September 2012. The firearm was initially purchased in Ohio in February 2012 before making its way into New York.

“The data makes one thing abundantly clear: New York’s strong gun laws are being undermined at every turn by lax laws in other states,” Schneiderman said. “Even as we work to make our streets safer, the illegal guns most often used in violent crimes continue to pour into our state.”

Using federal data, Schneiderman’s office analyzed the transaction history of all 52,915 guns connected to crimes and recovered by law enforcement from 2010 through the end of 2015.

The report, “Target on Trafficking: Analysis of New York Crime Guns,” is the first statewide law enforcement agency to obtain and analyze such comprehensive crime gun data provided by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Schneiderman said.

Of the 46,514 crime guns recovered by police with a known state of origin, an incredible 74%, or 33,344, were first sold to someone in another state.

That influx of out-of-state guns soars above the 29% national average, the report found.

Of the total recoveries, 75% were handguns, the weapon of choice among violent criminals, the report says. Of the 39,491 handguns recovered, 86% originated out-of-state.

“When you look at the illegal crime gun problem, it’s the handgun that’s killing people every day,” Schneiderman said.

A minuscule 6%, or 3,208, of the crime guns recovered belonged to the person who originally purchased the weapon, the report found.

New York in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre enacted a series of gun control measures. They included expanding the ban on automatic weapons, banning the sale of high capacity magazines, and creating a system designed to keep the mentally ill from buying guns.

But even with the tougher laws, guns from states with weak gun control laws are wreaking havoc in New York, Schneiderman says.

The bulk of the illegal weapons come from six states that make up what’s known as the “Iron Pipeline” — Pennsylvania, Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Ohio is also identified as a big supplier.

All have one thing in common — lax gun control laws, the report says.

With 4,216, New York City has the highest concentration of likely-trafficked guns from Iron Pipeline states. Between 2010 and the end of 2015, guns that originated in Virginia made up 19% of all recoveries in the city, followed by Pennsylvania and Georgia, both at 13%, the report says.

Of the pipeline states and Ohio, only Pennsylvania requires background checks for private sales or at gun shows — and that’s only for handguns, the report says.

And only North Carolina of the seven states requires a permit to purchase a handgun.

“From New York’s vantage point, the correlation between state and local laws and the source of trafficked guns is undeniable,” the report says.

“We believe the weakness of the gun laws in the Iron Pipeline states and Ohio, combined with direct access to New York via interstate highways and public transportation, has made them become the source-of-choice among gun traffickers running guns into New York.”

Schneiderman recommends the federal government close the so-called gun show loophole and require universal background checks, something Congress has refused to do.

He also urged the feds to make gun trafficking a crime and that states require all handgun owners to have a license.

Even New York can take action, the report found. Schneiderman wants passage of a gun kingpin bill that has been introduced that would make it a felony to illegally sell or possess 10 or more firearms.

The bill by Sen. Jeffrey Klein (D-Bronx) and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-Westchester County) would carry a 25-years to life sentence for the illegal sale or possession of over 20 firearms.

“The Legislature should pass it and send a message to traffickers who think New York is an attractive market for illegal gun sales to think again,” the report says.

Schneiderman’s office on Tuesday is also unveiling an online analytics platform that will allow law enforcement and the public to track gun trafficking patterns in their individual communities.

Tom King, an NRA board member from New York and president of the state Rifle and Pistol Association, said he wanted to see the Schneiderman report before commenting.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence also had no comment, preferring instead to wait for the release of the report.

Gov. Cuomo, who pushed for passage of the 2013 gun control law, has repeatedly called on Congress to help stem the flow of illegal guns into New York.

“Washington needs to act, pass reasonable gun safety laws, and stem this bloodshed once and for all — and this report is one more reason why,” Cuomo said of Schneiderman’s findings.

“New York proudly passed the strongest gun laws in the nation, but when someone can hop into a car, buy a gun just over the border and bring it back to commit a crime, Congress has failed in its prime responsibility to protect its citizens,” he said.