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  • Writer's pictureJess Marciano

More Than 1,300 Illegal Guns Seized, More Than 200 Defendants Charged

Report from 12/4/2023

Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand stood with NYPD Assistant Chief Jason Savino, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, and Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon at NYPD headquarters to unveil her original report analyzing initial successes from the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA)’s anti-gun trafficking section and mental health funding distribution. Gillibrand’s first-of-its-kind report found that more than 1,300 illegal guns have been seized by law enforcement and more than 200 defendants have been charged under BSCA’s new gun trafficking statute. The analysis shows that at least 190 of the seized guns were AR-15s or AR-style weapons and authorities also seized at least 151 ghost guns. The data also revealed that over $750 million has been distributed to finance mental and behavioral health services nationwide, which will also support the hiring of over 14,000 new mental health professionals in schools.  

Senator Gillibrand’s Hadiya Pendleton and Nyasia Pryear-Yard Gun Trafficking and Crime Prevention Act formed the centerpiece of BSCA’s anti-gun trafficking provision. Gillibrand first introduced the bill in 2009 after meeting with the family of Nyasia Pryear-Yard, who tragically lost her life at 17 years old when she was shot by a perpetrator using an illegally trafficked gun. Gillibrand worked with Nyasia’s mother, Jennifer Pryear, to pass the bill into law and they attended the bill signing together last year.

“After more than a decade of sustained advocacy, the centerpiece of my anti-gun trafficking bill was included in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, and this original report shows that the law is already taking guns off the streets and putting criminals behind bars,” said Senator Gillibrand. “After less than a year and half with the new anti-gun trafficking statute, more than 1,300 illegal guns have been seized and more than 200 defendants have been charged. Additionally, more than $750 million has been distributed to support mental health services, which will also support the hiring of over 14,000 new mental health professionals in schools. Making gun trafficking a federal crimes was long overdue— BSCA is proof that Democrats are working hard to keep our communities safe, and that when Congress works together, we can make a difference on gun violence.”

Key findings from Senator Gillibrand’s original report, “Firearms Trafficking & Mental Health in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act: A Review of Implementation and Successes”:

  1. As of October 31, 2023, 207 defendants across at least 20 states have been charged under BSCA’s new gun trafficking statute.

  2. Law enforcement has seized over 1,300 guns from suspected gun traffickers and their co-defendants, including over 120 in New York State. Considering the existence of sealed or otherwise inaccessible case filings that could not be analyzed in the report, the true number of recovered firearms is likely even higher.

  3. At least 190 of the guns seized by law enforcement were AR-15s or AR-style weapons – the same type of firearm used to commit some of America’s deadliest mass shootings.

  4. In the course of their gun trafficking investigations, authorities have also seized at least 151 ghost guns and at least 176 confirmed or suspected machine gun conversion devices – dangerous weapons that enable criminals to circumvent firearm regulations.

  5. Through the end of FY2023, the federal government awarded over $750 million in BSCA funding for mental and behavioral health services and programming, including nearly $100 million for New York State and New York-based organizations.

  6. Thanks to BSCA grant funding, an estimated 14,000 new mental health professionals will be hired in schools across the country, including 395 in New York State.

“Addressing the impact of illegal guns in New York City is a constant priority for the NYPD. The Safer Communities Act introduces new measures to help in that effort,” said Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban. “I commend Senator Gillibrand and our elected officials for their partnership in this vital work – curbing gun violence and improving our collective public safety.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg said, The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a historic piece of legislation that is assisting law enforcement and community partners to address the very real threat of gun violence in our city. Thank you Senator Gillibrand for your leadership in getting this bill passed in Congress and for prioritizing the safety of New Yorkers in Washington.” 

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said, “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a vital measure against gun violence. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s report shows it is helping to curb illegal firearms trafficking. The funding for mental health to prevent shootings in our communities is equally important as well. I am grateful to hear the Bronx will receive $1.1 million in such funds. Thanks to Senator Gillibrand for her efforts to make this happen.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, “We’re making great progress in the fight against gun violence in Brooklyn, and Senator Gillibrand’s legislation provides law enforcement and our partners with essential tools and resources to prevent gun violence and hold offenders accountable. With a comprehensive approach, targeting AR-15s, ghost guns, and investing more than $750 million in mental health services, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act supports the multi-pronged approach that we know is essential to end the scourge of gun violence that has devastated so many families in our city and across the nation. The early success of this vital legislation detailed in this report is a testament to what we can achieve when we work together to create meaningful change. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership and relentless commitment this critically important issue.”

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said, “The scourge of gun violence has stolen family, friends, and loved ones from our communities time and again, leaving heartache and hardship in its tragic wake. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, championed by Senator Gillibrand and signed into law by President Biden, works to limit access to firearms, thus saving lives, and provides substantial funding for mental and behavioral health care in the United States. Working together with our legislative and law enforcement partners, my office will continue to use every tool at our disposal to stem the tide of gun violence in this country. I thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this issue.”

Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon said, “Gun violence has devastating impacts that reach far beyond the victim or victims of these terrible crimes and the individual who fires the weapon. It is incumbent on everyone in law enforcement and elected office to do all we can to prevent gun crime, stop the flow of illegal weapons, and hold accountable those who perpetrate these deadly offenses. I am grateful to Senator Gillibrand for her longstanding advocacy on these issues which, now enacted into law, make it easier for federal authorities to prosecute gun offenders, to stop the iron pipeline that feeds so much of New York City’s gun violence, and to address underlying causes of gun violence like mental illness and community trauma. This is lifesaving work, and I am committed to continuing to doing my part along with the NYPD to root out illegal weapons, support innocent victims, and deliver swift and serious consequences in the courtroom.”

“My daughter, Nyasia, was an honor student with a bright future ahead of her when she lost her life to senseless gun violence. We need to do so much more to prevent gun violence and make sure what happened to Nyasia will never again happen in New York. For a decade, I worked with Senator Gillibrand to pass this bill, and I’m proud to have played a part in passing this law, which is stopping illegal guns from entering our communities in the first place,” said Jennifer Pryear, mother to Nyasia Pryear-Yard.

For the full report, please click here.

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