In a significant move to address rising gun violence in the city, the Boston City Council has passed an ordinance requiring the Boston Police to collect and report data on guns seized in crimes annually.
The measure, co-sponsored by City Councilor Brian Worrell and City Council President Ed Flynn, aims to provide valuable insights into the sources of weapons involved in the 150 to 200 shootings recorded in Boston each year.
“I believe that data-informed solutions can help us ensure that we’re taking the best approaches possible to reduce gun violence,” Worrell said in a statement. “Where are the guns coming from? Where do we need more resources? How can we best prevent repeat offenders?”
Officials said the initiative was prompted by the difficulty of tracking guns in America, even with legal records.
In 2022 alone, Boston officers recovered over 900 guns, with a recent report indicating that only 10% of guns recovered at Boston crime scenes in 2021 were purchased in Massachusetts.
The data has fueled growing concerns over illegal gun trafficking and shootings in the region.
Since the beginning of 2020, more than 780 people have been shot in Boston, and over 125 of these incidents were fatal, according to city data.
The annual report, a collaborative effort among the Boston Police Department, the state police, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, will include detailed information for each firearm, such as whether the gun was involved in a crime, its origin, the last legal sale date, the seizure location and the age of the person in possession.
Additionally, details about the gun’s model, manufacturer and modifications will be included.
The report is expected to be submitted to the city council, the mayor’s office and the Boston Public Health Commission to assist in shaping effective gun policies.
“There are too many kids in our city who are dying from gun violence. No child should be unsafe in their own city,” Worrell added.
The proposed ordinance has also undergone amendments to ensure clarity and reliability in the data collected.
Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, chair of the Committee on Government Operations, recommended the ordinance’s passage, declaring that it would provide valuable data to help law enforcement and policymakers develop solutions to reduce and prevent illegal gun trafficking.
Arroyo’s amendments also highlight the importance of recognizing federal restrictions on publicly sharing certain information collected by the Boston Police Department.
Furthermore, the amendments propose that the police share an annual gun trafficking report not only with the Boston Public Health Commission but also with the mayor and City Council. The report is expected to include policy recommendations and key takeaways in addition to raw data.
The ordinance also sheds light on a concerning statistic — only 10% of firearms recovered from Boston crime scenes in 2021 were purchased in Massachusetts. The rest were traced back to 18 other states, indicating the complex nature of firearms trafficking.
During a September 18 hearing, Boston Police representatives expressed concerns about an increase in privately-manufactured ghost guns and 3D printed guns, which are challenging to track.
Superintendent Felipe Colon stated: “The department certainly supports the spirit of this ordinance and looks forward to sharing additional data with the Council and the public.”
As Boston grapples with the ongoing challenge of illegal firearms, the new ordinance marks a crucial step towards a more data-driven and comprehensive approach to address and reduce gun violence in the city.