Newark police are seizing guns at a record-setting pace this year, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. It’s another sign that firearms are becoming more widespread in the city. Shootings and homicides are up even as overall crime continues to drop. Police are seeing more petty altercations ending with gunfire. “It’s a disgrace what’s happening in this county, this city and across the state. Our homicides are directly related to an increase in handguns in our community and it has to stop,” said Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow.
If Newark police keep seizing guns at their current rate — they’ve recovered nearly 600 so far — they are on track to reach the 800 mark by year’s end, easily surpassing the previous record of 737 in 2003. Seizures are up not only because there are more guns, but also because local and state police are focusing more on them, said Christopher Andreychak of the New Jersey State Police. “But the thing that really scares me is this — are we getting so many more guns but still not keeping pace with the guns coming into the community?” Experts say street crackdowns are the way to go, because research shows that the biggest factor determining whether people carry illegal guns is their perception of how vigilant police are in looking for them.