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Illegal Weapons - Where Are They Coming From?
July 3, 2007

Contact: William T. Breault (508) 397-1075; Barbara Haller (508) 414-0266

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 crime solving."

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.

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