The U-S Attorney's Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms say many guns are getting into the wrong hands in Mississippi, as well as all over the country. They say officers are doing a good job seizing the illegal guns. The problem is many agencies aren't doing their part in tracing and reporting every gun they confiscate.
On Wednesday, federal gun experts came to Harrison County to train local law enforcement officers on how to identify guns that have been seized, stolen or used in crimes. They look for things like the serial number, manufacturer, and make and model of the gun.
Next, the officers learned how to trace a gun to find out who bought it, where and when. Federal agents also urged the officers to report their findings to a national data base, so the information can be used to track down gun traffickers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Anderson says "There are agencies that are not as diligent as we need them to be in tracing the guns. We need 100% participation from every agency, in order to get a full and accurate picture of our crime guns. The clues will help the officers cut off the supply of crime guns to those persons who shouldn't have those guns".
ATF Special Agent Mark Kraft says "We want them to focus on the gun, concentrate on the gun, not just arresting a violent offender and getting the gun off the street. We can learn from the history of that gun and we cut off the future source of supply of crime guns".
Biloxi Police Officer Gerald Forbes says "Before, all we cared was that we recovered the guns and had them secured so we could destroy them. Now, we're really learning the importance of finding out where they came from and learning the pattern and how you can track it to other criminals".
The training session is part of a national program called "Project Safe Neighborhoods". Organizers say reducing gun violence is one of President Bush's top priorities. That's why they hold these seminars all over the country.