The NYPD seized more than 6,000 illegal guns in a year. Here are 5 takeaways.


A long-awaited city report shared exclusively with Gothamist provides new information about what types of illegal guns police are seizing and where.

The data comes after the New York City Council passed a bill in 2022 requiring the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the NYPD to report annually on all the guns police seized in a given year, including whether a gun was connected to a crime, where the gun came from and whether the person who sold it was licensed.

The inaugural report’s goal was to learn more about the weapons driving gun violence in the city and find ways to prevent it. Here are five takeaways from the data.

Most of the guns seized were not connected to a crime

The report examines 6,242 firearms police seized between July 2020 and December 2021. About a third of them had been used in a crime and about two-thirds had not. The guns that had not been used in a crime included those seized from people who didn’t have a license to possess a firearm, and weapons that people voluntarily turned over to law enforcement at gun buybacks.

Most of the guns connected to a crime came from precincts with high gun violence rates

Police seized the most guns connected to crimes from the NYPD precincts encompassing Brownsville and East New York in Brooklyn. During the reporting period, officers took 154 firearms used in crimes from the 73rd Precinct in Brownsville and 131 from the 75th Precinct in East New York, according to NYPD data.

Brownsville and East New York are priority precincts for the city’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which is working to reduce shootings in several neighborhoods with the highest rates of shootings. The four other precincts the task force is focusing on — the 40th, 42nd, 44th and 47th Precincts in the Bronx — also ranked high for seizures of guns connected to crimes.

The other precincts where police seized the most such guns were the 67th, 71st, 77th and 81st in Brooklyn. Those precincts include East Flatbush, Crown Heights and parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Police cracked down particularly hard on illegal guns in East Harlem

The precinct with the most guns seized overall was the 23rd Precinct in East Harlem. Police took 330 guns off the streets there between July 2020 and December 2021. Only about 9% of them were connected to a crime other than illegal possession, the data shows.

The report explains that officers recovered so many guns in this part of East Harlem because it’s where the police department’s firearm suppression unit is based.

Pistols are by far the most popular type of gun seized by police

More than 70% of firearms that police seized during the reporting period were pistols. About 13% were revolvers and about 8% were rifles or shotguns.

The disparity was even starker for firearms connected to crimes. Almost 80% of crime guns were pistols, while only 3% were rifles or shotguns.

A handful of manufacturers made up an outsized share of guns recovered by the NYPD. Smith & Wesson and Taurus topped the list, accounting for more than 700 seized guns each. Police also seized hundreds of Glocks and Rugers and more than 100 firearms made by Hi-Point, Springfield Armory, Beretta and Colt. In many cases, police didn’t know who manufactured the gun.

Federal law keeps some of the most important data secret

But the report didn’t cover a key question lawmakers had: Where do illegal guns found in New York City originate? City leaders say that such information would make it easier to identify gun manufacturers, dealers and owners who are illegally trafficking guns that could be used in crimes. But a federal law called the Tiahrt Amendment restricts the sharing of gun data.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracks firearms trafficking and has a repository of gun trace data, which shows the path of a firearm from manufacturing through its first sale.

Law enforcement agencies can access that data for criminal investigations, and the ATF publishes reports on general trends. The latest trace data from the ATF show about 4 in 5 guns recovered across New York in 2022 came from outside the state. But policymakers, researchers and other members of the public can’t see the ATF’s data on a granular level.

David Pucino, legal director for the Giffords Law Center, said increasing access to the data would make it easier to uncover gun trafficking rings, common routes for smuggling firearms and other patterns fueling gun violence.

“Data is out there that will say where each of these crime guns originated from, what store initially sold them, how they ended up in the stream of commerce that ended up, at the end of the day, with them being recovered in connection with the crime,” he said. “And that data is kept from the American people.”

But Mark Oliva with the National Shooting Sports Foundation said gun trace data needs to be protected because sharing it too broadly could jeopardize law enforcement investigations. He also said sharing the data could unfairly punish gun dealers for shootings they themselves do not commit.

“These officials are more interested in conducting a ‘name-and-shame’ campaign and shifting the blame for their own failures to properly address spiraling crime,” Oliva said in an emailed statement.



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