Rockford Police take aim at illegal guns - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford Police take aim at illegal guns

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John Brantley John Brantley
Lt. Marc Welsh Lt. Marc Welsh
ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Rockford Police step up their efforts to target illegal guns.  It's meant a higher amount taken off the streets, but that doesn't necessarily translate into less crime.  According to Rockford Police statistics for every one gun seized in Rockford, one and a half gun crimes occur.  Police hope a new effort can change that.

"One of the highest priorities of the Rockford Police Department right now is reducing that gun violence. That entails taking more guns off the street and making more gun arrests," says Lt. Marc Welsh.

In June, police took 29 guns off the streets in Rockford.  That's more than double what officers seized in February and pushes the total to 131 for the year.

The head of the neighborhood watch at the North Main Manor feels taking one or two illegal guns at a time is not enough to make Rockford safer. He would like police to go after bigger targets.

"If you go to the source of the problem then you can alleviate the problem but in all actuality they are not interested in alleviating the problem.  They only put a bandage on the problem and the problem continues to infect itself," says John Brantley.

Rockford Police say they know it's a problem.  A new anti-violence program is in the works to have police partner with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with other organizations.

"We are working on some programs to actually improve the amount of guns we recover and improve the sentences for the people we arrest for the gun charges as well as other factors," says Lt. Welsh.

Although the program is still about a month away from launching police say they work regularly with the ATF to upgrade local gun charges to the federal level whenever possible.

"We want to devote as many resources as we can to reduce the amount of gun crime in Rockford," says Lt. Welsh.

A new gun ad campaign just launched in Rockford by the ATF asks people to report any firearms related to crimes. You will see billboards with the number 1-(800) ATF-GUNS that encourage people to report gun crimes anonymously.

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