Baltimore City will launch a new tool to track the source of illegally purchased guns and identify connections between cases, Mayor Brandon Scott announced Wednesday.
The Baltimore Police Department worked with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown for Gun Safety to develop the Gun Trafficking Intelligence Platform, a data portal that Scott said is the “first of its kind.”
The tool will integrate the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm’s (ATF) e-Trace system with ballistic evidence and the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system.
Together, the data will help Baltimore detectives make connections between cases and patterns about where and from whom guns are bought.
“If you are selling a weapon illegally or trafficking a weapon illegally or even straw purchasing a weapon, knowing that the person you’re giving it to is going to shoot, rob or kill somebody, you have to be held responsible,” Scott said.
Scott said at least 82% of guns seized in Baltimore City in 2020 were originally purchased outside of city limits, and nearly 65% of guns were originally purchased outside of Maryland.
With the majority of seized guns originating outside of Baltimore, Scott said the city has an obligation to focus not only on where the firearms are being used in crimes but also where they are coming from.
“Without getting a handle on the supply and flow of illegal guns onto our streets, we will not be able to get a handle on the violence,” he said.
BPD plans to assign a sergeant and two detectives, who will have oversight from a major with investigative experience, to use the tool.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that although the portal itself is ready for use, the department still needs to select the detectives who will participate in the initiative.
Harrison said detectives will have to apply, and that the team will be selected in less than a month.
Scott said BPD will continue working with the State’s Attorney’s Office, as well as ATF and other federal partners, on cases that use the new tool.
In the past week, a 10-year-old, a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old were shot and wounded in three separate shootings in Baltimore.
Harrison said during Wednesday’s press conference that BPD has leads in all three cases but that the department is not ready to say that they have suspects or persons of interest in those cases.
Scott said finding the individuals responsible for each of those shootings is important to him.
“Finding those individuals is a top priority for me because people who cowardly shoot children should not be able to walk freely around the city and think they’re going to go about their daily lives, knowing that they’re not man or woman enough to step up and say ‘Okay, I shot a kid. I did it.’ We’re going to make sure that we’re going after these people aggressively and holding them accountable for shooting our babies,” he said.
Anyone with information about those incidents can report it anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 866-756-2587.