Baltimore and New York will start sharing information about illegal weapons they seize, creating a database that gets around a congressionally imposed restriction on information local departments can obtain about guns seized outside their borders, the Baltimore Sun reports. Federal law gives cities only limited access to the national database that tracks guns used in crimes. Mayors hope other cities along the I-95 corridor will sign on, and by sharing the information they will be able to spot trends in regional gun trafficking that they say are invisible to them under current system.
“This is the kind of system that the federal government should be doing, but they aren’t,” said New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “Cities are fighting crime in isolation. Congress has a treasure trove of data and we are not allowed to see it.” The mayors also will share ballistic data and investigative information including the price of weapons sold on the streets, nicknames of known drug traffickers, and the distances people are traveling to purchase illegal weapons. Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon expects the database to be in operation in the next several months. Mike Campbell, a spokesman for the U.S. bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said once cities obtain federal information they can share it with each other. ATF cannot tell a Baltimore detective anything about the purchase of a gun found in New York.