60 percent of guns used in Mass. crimes come from out of state

BOSTON — Sixty percent of the guns used to commit crime in Massachusetts come from out of state.

It is an eye-opening statistic, and FOX25 Investigates wanted to find out why that’s happening.

FOX25’s Bob Ward discovered those guns don’t have to travel very far to reach our streets.

Gun violence is not a stranger to the streets of Massachusetts or to people like Isaura Mendez. She has lost a son and nephews to guns.

“It's like a cancer, you know? You lost one person and then you lost so many, just like a cancer,” Mendez said.

According to federal statistics, it is likely the guns used to kill Mendez’s relatives were illegal, and they likely came from just across the state border.

FOX25 Investigates discovered that while Massachusetts has some of the most stringent gun control laws in the country, those laws can’t stop the tide of illegal weapons pouring into the state.

“The majority of the crime guns recovered here in Mass, crime guns, are sourced from other states. They were purchased from another state,” said Dan Kumor, the special agent in charge of the Boston office of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

ATF is behind the alarming statistic that most of the guns involved in local crimes come from other states, mostly Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire.

Kumor says those states have more lenient gun laws.

“Criminals know that, and they often use other people to buy guns for them from gunshops. Mass. requires FID permits in order to purchase a firearm, where other states like New Hampshire, that’s not a requirement,” Kumor said.

Consider the life the 9mm pistol used to kill MIT police officer Sean Collier in Cambridge. The gun was originally bought at a Maine gun shop, but over the years, it made its way to Steven Silva. Silva lent it to convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In the weeks before the Boston Marathon bombing attacks, Dzokhar and brother Tamerlan traveled to a New Hampshire gun range to practice using it.

At the ATF’s Boston office, they showed FOX25 a table full of crime guns taken from the streets of Massachusetts. Most of the guns originally came from just over the state line.

“The majority of firearms of this particular case, originated in New Hampshire. The majority of them originated from being purchased, straw purchase, from a gun dealers in New Hampshire,” Kumor told FOX25.

Mendez is now a peace activist. Part of her mission is to stop the supply of illegal guns reaching neighborhoods like hers.

“We can stop that. America is a powerful country. We tried to stop everything else, but can we stop the gun?” Mendez said.

President Obama recently unveiled a new plan to cut down on gun violence. A key part of his plan calls for gun dealers, including those at gun shows or over the Internet, be licensed and conduct background checks.