ATF report: Machine gun recoveries up in Pennsylvania

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More machine guns were recovered and traced in Pennsylvania by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives last year than during the four prior years combined, according to a report issued by the federal agency today.

The ATF traces firearms at the request of other law enforcement agencies, often -- though not always -- because they were used in a crime.

Last year the ATF traced 9,459 guns in Pennsylvania, roughly consistent with recent years. Slightly more than half were pistols, with revolvers, rifles and shotguns making up most of the balance.

There was a notable change in the number of machine guns recovered and traced. The ATF reported 132 machine gun traces in the state last year, compared to a total for the years 2009 through 2012 of 110.

The ATF defines a machine gun as "any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger." The agency also includes in its definition and its count parts designed for use in converting a non-automatic weapon into a machine gun, and parts that can be combined to make a machine gun.

Individuals can obtain permits to own machine guns made before 1986, following payment of a fee, and there are 17,714 such weapons registered in Pennsylvania, according to the ATF.

An ATF spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

Of the guns traced in the state, the largest number, 1,768, were 9 mm in caliber. The average age of the possessor of the traced firearm was 38 years, slightly above the national average. Philadelphia accounted for 3,513 of the recovered firearms, followed by Pittsburgh, with 958.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord.

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