An agreement between federal and state officials will allow the New Jersey State Police to trace the origin of every gun recovered from a crime scene in the state, boosting efforts to combat illegal weapons trafficking, says the Newark Star-Ledger. The agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the first of its kind in the nation, giving troopers direct access to gun-purchase records so they can look for patterns in the flow of weapons to New Jersey’s streets.
The ATF last year ran records checks on 3,100 weapons for police departments in New Jersey, and determined that more than two-thirds had been purchased out of state. The information on each gun was given only to the local department that recovered it, because of a federal law restricting the data to agencies involved in “bona fide criminal investigations and prosecutions.” That left New Jersey authorities with no way to identify or combat statewide trends in gun trafficking. The new agreement, based on a change in the way the ATF interprets federal law, will allow state police to lay “a road map to go back and investigate potential leads” on how guns used in crimes end up in New Jersey, said Gov. Jon Corzine said. Today, Corzine Newark Mayor Cory Booker are announcing new efforts to crack down on gun offenders and unscrupulous gun dealers in New Jersey. They include a set of proposed municipal ordinances to tighten towns’ oversight of dealers and keep track of ex-convicts finishing prison sentences for gun crimes.