HARRISBURG, Pa. --- The largest law enforcement body in the commonwealth is joining an initiative to curb gun violence.
Pennsylvania State Police officials announced their support of Attorney General Josh Shapiro's "Track + Trace" program.
"Track + Trace" was introduced two weeks ago in Erie. It's a described "collaborative, data-driven approach" to combating gun trafficking, illegal gun possession, and illegal transfers (or straw purchases) in the commonwealth.
Shapiro said they're trying to better aid law enforcement agencies in tracking and tracing illegal guns through information sharing, statewide.
“We want to keep guns out of the hands of people who are not supposed to have them and we all want to save lives," said Shapiro.
Major Douglas Burig with Pennsylvania State Police said they have tools in place to help track illegal guns and gun sales, including the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS).
However, he said they're dealing with backlog problem.
He said they're nine to 12 months behind on record of sales forms since the majority of licensed firearm dealers use a paper method, which is a legal method but State Police officials say it can be time-consuming.
“Getting licensed firearms dealers on-board in completing the record of sale documentation electronically is one way we can reduce the backlog in Harrisburg and ensure relevant information is available to law enforcement, instantaneously," said Maj. Burig.
Dauphin County District Attorney Fran Chardo said they want to help with the initiative to try and "put a dent" in the 15 gun-related homicide that county experienced last year.
“These guns used in those homicides were not lawfully possessed. They were gotten illegally and possessed illegally and this goes to the core of how they were obtained," said Chardo.
Shapiro said it's state law to submit information into the database regarding illegal guns but only one-third of law enforcement agencies have been doing it.
He said they will continue to work with agencies and retailers across the state to bolster the "Track + Trace" initiative.
Shapiro said DICK'S Sporting Goods has added its support to the initiative, moving all record of sales for firearms, including handguns, to an electronic-based system.