PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island communities remain saturated with illegal firearms, according to a report released Monday by R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha.
The annual Gun Crimes Report states that prosecutors charged and disposed of 799 cases involving illegal firearms last year. Of those cases, 486 originated from Providence County, according to the report, while 144 involved multiple firearms.
“Our communities continue to be inundated with guns,” Neronha wrote in the report. “Law enforcement is seeing it firsthand — we are seeing ghost guns, assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and we are seeing them in every corner of the state, both rural and urban.”
The report not only provides statistics on the prevalence of illegal firearms in Rhode Island, but also underscores the state’s efforts to combat violent crime.
The Urban Violent Crime Initiative successfully connected its National Integrated Ballistic Information Network machine to the database last year, making it fully operational. The machine, according to the report, is used to analyze ballistic evidence and “plays a key role in solving gun crimes.”
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The report said the machine allows investigators “…to analyze a shell casing from one shooting and identify connections between that shooting and any other shooting in Rhode Island or anywhere in the Northeast.”
The machine helped detectives close in on a West Warwick couple suspected of orchestrating a statewide gun-trafficking and ghost gun-manufacturing scheme by connecting it to a prior investigation.
“We are prioritizing our investigatory and prosecutorial resources both toward identifying the perpetrators and drivers of violent crime and toward bringing them to justice,” Neronha wrote.
The report also highlights the state’s aggressive enforcement of firearms laws, including the high-capacity magazine ban signed into law last summer.
“Regardless of how long the laws have been on the books, we are using them to focus our resources on those who are truly driving violent crime in our communities and bringing them to justice, with significant sentences that will keep them off the streets and keep our communities safer for as long as possible,” the report reads.
Last year, 30 cases involved magazines with capacities of more than 30 rounds, while 77 included magazines with capacities between 16 and 30 rounds, according to the report.
The report said prosecutors are also seeing a “significant amount of ghost guns associated with violent crime in Rhode Island.” There were 66 cases involving ghost guns last year, nearly all of which were sourced from Polymer80.
Of last year’s cases, 6% involved a Polymer80 ghost gun, while 16% involved a Glock, which presented as the most prevalent firearm used.
There are more than 380 cases from last year still pending, according to the report.