HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford police seized a record number of guns last year, and 2023 is off to a similar start, according to officers.
More than 367 guns were seized in 2022, which also saw an increase in homicides on Hartford streets. One in five of those was stolen.
“The rest we believe are straw purchases going on around the country, making the way up into our state,” Sgt. Chris Mastroianni said.
Those are typically purchased in states like Florida, Georgia, and Texas. The firearms included handguns, rifles, ghost guns, and fully automatic firearms.
That number only includes guns seized in crimes and does not count firearms seized by federal authorities or guns surrendered in buybacks.
The data doesn’t stop once the police have the gun. Officers track where the gun was seized, the age of the person who had it, and where it came from. Specialized units then analyze and share that information.
“Our vice and narcotics, violent crimes unit, our auto theft task force and shooting crimes units have really been putting themselves out there, tracking down these illegal firearms, the people that are carrying them, and making a lot of arrests,” Mastroianni said.
Another key statistic is how long a gun has been on the street before it is used to commit a crime.
“If I have a firearm bought a week ago, and it ends up at a homicide scene, there’s a time-to-crime there,” Mastroianni said. “Whoever bought that is absolutely part of the investigation.”
There are more guns out on the streets than ever before, and not only in Hartford. Firearm production has seen an increase in the last year, and Hartford homicides were the highest in 10 years in 2022.
Younger people are showing more interest, Mastroianni said and may be using them as a coping mechanism.