Illegal Weapons - Where Are They Coming From?
July 3, 2007
Contact: William T. Breault (508) 397-1075; Barbara Haller
Gun violence continues to be the major source of fear in
our communities. Last December, the Main South Alliance for
Public Safety (MSAPS) and City Councilor Barbara Haller announced
plans to aggressively pursue a new program to track and map
the movement of illegal weapons.
William T. Breault, Chair of the MSAPS, updates progress
on the effort: "Track & Map is pleased to announce
an anonymous tip line for residents to report any gun activity
that may threaten public safety. We have made inroads into
our community reporting illegal drug activity - it is now
time for us to do the same with illegal gun activity."
He continues, "In 2000 Kahr Arms, a weapons manufacturer
in Worcester, reported 41 guns missing from its inventory.
Other government sources indicate that the number is at least
150 missing weapons. This information became public only because
of protest over a murder at a local nightclub in Main South
in 1999. An engaged public made a difference in this situation
and we need to stay engaged to get illegally obtained weapons
out of our neighborhoods."
City Councilor Barbara Haller explains, "The Gun Tip
Line, sponsored by the Main South Community Development Corp.,
provides the public with an easy tool to report suspected
or known guns in their neighborhood. We are asking people
who have information to pick up the phone and call (508) 795-7197
and share whatever information they have concerning illegal
weapons. People can leave their name and phone number for
follow-up contact or they can remain completely anonymous.
We will turn over information to the Worcester Police Department
for response and action where warranted."
Breault adds, "This is the community proactively participating
in community policing for public safety and not part of a
'no snitching' mentality that plagues some areas of the State.
We know that there is a lot of information on who has illegal
guns in our city - the Gun Tip Line is a new community tool
to put that information where it needs to go to protect our
families and quality of life."
Regarding another effort, Haller states, "Public and
law enforcement access to gun trace data remains astonishingly
restricted through the Federal ATF. Since 2003 the annual
Tiahrt Amendments to the Justice Department budget have successfully
blocked our ability to connect the dots on illegal guns. This
year's attempt to continue this obstruction to our freedom
of information will soon be made. We continue to lobby our
elected representatives to stop Tiahrt and implore all who
understand that it is nearly impossible to effectively manage
the problem of illegal weapons without tracing the movement
of guns after purchase to join us."
In addition to Track & Map and anti-Tiahrt lobbying,
Breault explains another state-wide effort that he and Haller
are engaged in. "We have invited municipal and town mayors
and police chiefs to be part of a pilot software application
developed for law enforcement by Coloseum Software Corporation
that is powered through artificial intelligence to connect
each police department to trace crime guns and share data.
We know that we can save lives and reduce fear by exposing
trafficking patterns of illegal firearms. This package is
available to all Commonwealth police departments at no cost
and will put Massachusetts on the cutting edge of technology-based
Haller adds, "Gun violence in Worcester is all about
illegally obtained weapons. The recent shooting on Russell
and Townsend and the tragic shooting of a 13-year innocent
victim on Douglas Street last April which left this child
permanently paralyzed are but two examples of illegal gun
use that has scared both victims and their neighborhoods.
We can do better. We must do better. The Gun Tip Line, the
defeat of Tiahrt, and the use of AIMI provide new crime-fighting
tools for prevention and investigations."
Breault concludes, "We are stepping forward, and will
continue to do so, and asking 'Where are these illegally obtained
guns coming from?' We ask others to join us in finding the
answer to this question. The public's interest must not end
with the vigil candles and the arrest of the perpetrator -
we must find out where these crime guns are coming from and
respond to stop them."
Note: Track & Map webpage remains under construction
(www.trackandmap.org). This technology tool will provide an
interactive map of weapons incidents, provide public education
on gun safety, and allow for public input of gun information.