Pennsylvania

Track and Trace initiative seeks to reduce gun crimes

Pennsylvania's top cop says it's the law and his office will work with other police agencies to enforce it.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro introduced his track and trace initiative, which aims to help create a clear timeline of where a weapon has been from the first day it is purchased.

The Fountain Hill Police Department is using a system that Shapiro is trying to get other departments to use.

Fountain Hill is the only agency using the e-Trace program out of 16 police departments in Lehigh County, but more departments are getting on board.

Shapiro's goal is to reduce gun crimes. Part of that starts with tracking the weapon from the retailer to the crime.

That starts with giving retailers an online system to inform state police of a gun purchase. Currently, it is done by a handwritten form.

"The problem is that paper work when it gets filled out has to be mailed to the Pennsylvania state police, they have to manually input it, there's a backlog, errors can be made during the input process," Shapiro said.

The second part of the plan is to get police departments to use a system called e-Trace. The online database is shared statewide.

"Only about a third of our law enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania do that. The first prong of track and trace is to get every law enforcement agency in Pennsylvania to input that data as required by state law and share that information."

 Shapiro gives credit to the Fountain Hill Police Department, which is already using the system.

"There is no sense in everybody re-doing that work all over again if you can pick up the phone and call the police department and say listen that gun that you have, we have ballistics that match or something that matches that or it was stolen from this address," said Chief Ed Bachert with the Fountain Hill Police Department.

Shapiro said more departments have signed on to use the e-Trace system since the announcement of track and trace last week.

Dick's Sporting Goods agreed to solely use the online system for retailers when registering weapons.


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