Baltimore has made a name for itself as being one of the most violent cities in America. To help combat the “gun violence” problem the city has, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has rolled out a new program: allowing the city to borrow a “gun tracing” van. The ATF hopes to make this van, and others like it, accessible to cities nationwide.
“We are looking for all the help we can get. As you know our murder rate is up. Murder is out of control. Too many guns on our streets,” Mayor Catherine Pugh told CBS Baltimore.
The idea behind the van is simple: using shell casings and evidence to trace a gun’s owner faster.
“Once we take a recovered firearm, we’re able to stick it into the snail trap, discharge the firearm, whereby we can get an exemplar from this particular firearm. It tells you definitively, what gun has been tied to what homicide, ”ATF Firearms Division Chief James Ferguson explains.
Once the casings are analyzed, the weapon could be connected to other homicides.
“If you are taking a gun out the streets to resolve your petty conflicts with firearm violence, that’s something you need to worry about, because it’s going to connect the ballistic evidence we recover from scenes, it will connect that evidence to our known bad guys and do so in record time,” Baltimore police Commissioner Kevin Davis told WBAL.
The mobile van will allow Baltimore police to obtain ballistics in four hours. Although Baltimore has a ballistics unit, it takes weeks for the results to come back.
According to ATF, “the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN)is the only national network that allows for the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to aid in solving and preventing violent crimes involving firearms.”
“ATF’s NIBIN program is a critical piece to solving and preventing gun violence in Baltimore,” ATF Baltimore Field Division Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board, Jr. told FOX Baltimore. “This mobile resource will be a tremendous asset to Baltimore by supporting a timely and comprehensive collection of firearm-related evidence at crime scenes, which in turn will help us reduce and prevent violent crime.”
The mobile van will remain in Baltimore for a month and will be sent out to shooting scenes.