The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives along with local law enforcement agencies will launch a new Houston-Area Crime Gun Intelligence Center by early 2024, the Houston Landing reports. It will be an intelligence center meant to collect and analyze data related to guns used in crimes. The ATF currently traces each of the roughly 12,000 crime guns recovered by law enforcement each year in the Houston metro area. Now, the Crime Gun Center’s team of 12 analysts, supplied by six local and federal agencies, will compile that trace data into a larger database. “If we can commit more resources to gathering intelligence, digesting what is valuable and then going after it in an effective and efficient manner, then we’re really going to help reduce violent crime in Harris County,” said Daniel Dellasala, a lieutenant and commander of the Crime Scene Investigations Unit at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Analysts will track the guns’ original purchaser, whether those purchasers ever sold the gun, and whether the purchasers or the buyers were ever involved with other guns recovered by law enforcement. This data will alert law enforcement to broader trends in how perpetrators of crime are sourcing their weapons and support investigations on an individual level. ATF is prohibited by provisions in a 2003 federal appropriations bill from sharing trace data with individuals or agencies outside law enforcement. But, law enforcement officials hope the data they collect will help them stop violent crime through internal data analysis. In a report issued in May, Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy identified 53,985 gun crimes committed in Harris County between 2018 and 2021 Violent crime overall is down in Houston,, but gun thefts – particularly from parked cars – are on the rise.