Tulsa Raid Helps Police Track Guns From Seller To Criminal

Wednesday, October 13th 2010, 5:13 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Federal, state and city police officers recently did a raid on Tulsa's most violent criminals and gang members. During it, they confiscated 46 illegal guns.

The ATF did a track on those 46 guns to learn how criminals were able to get them so easily.

Police say it's common to see a gang member or former felon with a gun. They say criminals find ways to get guns, despite the laws that require paperwork and background checks.

They also say the problem is getting worse, as the criminals with guns get younger and younger.

During Operation Triple Beam, officers recovered more than four dozen illegal weapons. The ATF says the most popular place criminals get guns is from you and me - they break into our homes and steal them.

8/25/2010 Related Story: Operation Triple Beam Nabs 163 Suspected Oklahoma Gang Members

"Easy for a burglar to put a gun in his pocket and run off with it. But, a locked safe or secure location, bolted to the floor in your house, makes it more difficult to walk off with," said Jeff Cochran, ATF.

About 20 to 25 percent of the guns couldn't be traced because they were too old, made before 1968 when the marking requirements were not as precise. The rest come from straw purchases, where a person who can pass a background check buys the gun, then gives it to someone who couldn't pass.

They also come from flea markets, gun shows and individual sellers, who aren't required by federal law to do the checks.

"It's very easy to go to a gun show or flea market and buy a gun from an unlicensed dealer, and the person has no idea who they're selling it to," Cochran said.

The three most common firearms used by criminals and run through the AF's tracing center in the past two years are Hi-Point 9 millimeters, Smith and Wesson .38 revolvers and Ruger 9's.

Agents say if you want to get rid of your gun, be responsible in how you do it.

"Go to a licensed dealer, do a consignment where the person has a background check done on them. That way, you know it's not a prohibited person and ending up in the wrong hands," said ATF Agent Jeff Cochran.

Agents have tracked 733 guns in the past three years in Tulsa - guns that have been used in murders, shootings, robberies and dope deals. One thing that makes those traces tough is when people have a gun stolen but don't report it because they don't know the serial number.

Write down the serial number so if your gun is stolen, it's easier to trace and also to get back to you.