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Police Gun Seizures Rising

After two New York City police officers were killed this month while responding to a domestic disturbance call, authorities said the suspect used a Glock 45 that was stolen in Baltimore in 2017. The case prompted city and state officials to call for stronger measures against gun trafficking across state lines. Law enforcement agencies in some big cities seized or recovered near decade-high numbers of firearms in 2021, CNN reports. Many departments reported recovering high numbers of "ghost guns" — untracked and untraceable firearms that are often bought online and assembled at home. "We have to stop the flow of guns," said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "We are removing thousands of guns off our streets, and it appears as though for every gun we remove from the street, five are coming in. That is unacceptable."

New York police made 4,497 gun arrests in 2021, up three percent from 2020 and a 26 percent rise from 2019. CNN requested data on gun seizures and recoveries from police departments in over a dozen large cities. Of the eight cities that responded with data through 2021, all recorded more gun recoveries last year than in 2020, with several reaching highs not seen in at least a decade. Not all cities distinguished between guns recovered from crime scenes and those recovered from voluntary efforts, such as a gun buyback program, but the increases are indicative of growing numbers of firearms. In Philadelphia, police last year recovered 5,920 crime guns — a gun used or suspected of being used in a crime — the highest in at least a decade. Chicago police recovered more than 12,000 guns in 2021, up from 11,397 in 2020, including guns recovered through buyback programs and other voluntary means. Last year's total includes at least 706 assault weapons, 62 percent higher than the number recovered in 2020. 

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