New Bedford Police Say ‘Ghost’ Guns Are a Growing Problem
Shootings and reports of shots fired have picked up following a relatively quiet first half of the summer in New Bedford. When suspected rival gang members exchanged gunfire at a spring carnival at the Dartmouth Mall, many folks, myself included, braced for a violent summer season.
Several incidents involving guns followed the carnival, but then there was a lull. The last couple of weeks has more than made up for it.
To their credit, New Bedford Police have taken dozens of guns off the streets.
"Since January 2021, it's about 90 (guns)," said Police Chief Paul Oliveira.
The problem is that there are always more guns available.
I asked Oliveira where the seemingly endless supply of guns comes from.
"Not sure," he replied. "Other than the guns that are sourced (purchased from a Massachusetts resident or stolen from Massachusetts), most of our recovered guns over the last year were 'ghost' guns."
Oliveira explained that "ghost" guns are guns that are "made without serial numbers, there is no way to trace them." He said "ghost" guns are also known as PMFs, or personally made firearms.
Suffolk County, Massachusetts Interim District Attorney Kevin Hayden recently told WCVB Channel 5's On the Record program that "Over 60 percent of the guns that are on the streets of Boston are coming from another state."
During a news conference in May, Hayden said illegal guns from Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida routinely find their way to Massachusetts.
Oliveira said in addition to "recovered crime guns" purchased or stolen from a Massachusetts resident, "almost an equal amount were from Maine."
"We have also recovered multiple guns from Florida and New Hampshire," he said.