BOSTON — Police chiefs and mayors from across New England are trying to coordinate efforts to curb illegal gun trafficking. For the first time leaders from across the region gathered together Thursday to brainstorm ideas.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh hosted the gathering, which included police chiefs from Portland, Maine, to Hartford, Conn. They all met at Roxbury Community College in the heart of Boston.
Walsh said what bothers him is that while many people in the city celebrated Marathon Monday as a return to normalcy, that same day three men were shot and wounded in Boston.
“In my campaign, I spoke about not drawing a line in the sand and coming to a compromise,” he said. “When it comes to illegal guns and it comes to drugs, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. We need to stop that.”
So far this year, the Boston Police Department has reported 19 homicides.
“When it comes to guns and violent crime, we have two targets: traffickers and trigger pullers,” said Daniel Kumor, the special agent in charge for the Boston office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Last year, more than half the guns used in crimes in Massachusetts came from out of state, many from New Hampshire and Maine.
Walsh is proposing the creation of a regional gun crime research center so that states can collaborate efforts.
Guns crossing state lines is a problem. But, for Anthony Braga, with Harvard University, the gun crime market within the state is more puzzling. The percent of guns originating from Massachusetts has risen sharply. From 2005 to 2006 it was 26 percent. Now it’s 46 percent.
“As soon as I saw that number, I said, how could this be?” said Braga, who is with the Program in Criminal Justice Policy at Harvard. “We’ve got very good gun laws in Massachusetts. I’d really like to figure out what’s going on.”
Harvard is teaming up with the city of Boston to dig into the reasons guns are getting into the wrong hands. And Braga is leading that study.
It’ll formally begin this summer, with the goal of offering the city some concrete ways to tackle gun violence. Braga said he’s planning interviews, looking specifically at neighborhoods most affected by gun violence.