Where are the criminals in Rochester getting their illegal guns?

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – It was a year ago tomorrow the city of Rochester and The ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition agreed to partner with the national Brady Center to analyze the city’s gun crime data. Tuesday night, researchers from the Brady Center answered questions from the coalition about their goals and their efforts so far.

A map of city shootings in the Rochester Police data portal tells the story. Each blue dot represents a person shot in our city over the past three years. It’s a staggering image that plays out on our streets on a near-nightly basis.

“We have had a total of 283 shootings where there were victims this year, which resulted in a total of 325 shooting victims,” said RPD Captain Mark Mura. “As of last week, RPD has taken 722 illegal guns off the street.”

From the bloodshed, the ROC Against Gun Violence Coalition was born. It meets regularly, in the words of its leader, to educate, advocate and eradicate gun violence.
The city signed an agreement with the Brady Center to analyze crime trends and provide a gun trace report in Rochester. Their work is driven by data.

“You can look for information about what does it tell us about gun trafficking. What does it tell us about gun crime. What does it tell us about the supply chain of crime guns,” explained Josh Scharff from the Brady Center via a Zoom call.

The coalition is looking to answer this critical question: Where are all the illegal guns in Rochester coming from?

“About 90% of all the firearms recovered in the streets came from only about 5% of the firearm dealers out there. So just a few investigations of the right dealers, or should I say the wrong dealers, has an incredible impact,” said Steve Lindley from the Brady Center. 

City council member Willie Lightfoot, Jr. says, once traced, they can hold gun dealers and manufacturers accountable.
“We want to be able to utilize the new laws that New York State has put in place of gun dealer code of conduct, which holds gun dealers accountable for these illegal guns being trafficked into our communities and taking the lives of people that are citizens of our community,” Lightfoot said.

The Brady Center will take data such as a gun’s make, model and serial number, as well as where and when the gun was recovered and under what circumstance. But the researchers say this is just the first step, not the solution.

“Once we know what that data says, what stories that tells, what likelihood it suggest, only then can communities really craft solutions, supply side solutions or other types of solutions that would really address the issue of trafficked firearms,” Scharff told the coalition.

The Brady Center will produce a public report detailing its analysis and provide the city with recommendations for action. That report is expected sometime in the first half of 2023.