PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is helping to tackle Philadelphia’s rising gun violence in a multi-faceted way. Several new initiatives are meant to target illegal guns filtering onto the streets, including an initiative called “Operation Lipstick.”
Gun violence plaguing the streets of Philadelphia is a major concern among city and state officials. Nothing has struck a chord more than the shooting death of a 2-year-old girl inside her Kensington home and an 11-month-old baby who was critically injured after being shot multiple times while inside a car.READ MORE: Student At Coatesville Area Senior High School Stabbed 6 Times During Fight
“It’s horrific and it doesn’t have to be this way,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a sit-down interview with CBS3.
Shapiro’s office is at the forefront of creating task forces and community-based initiatives to stop the violence.
“It’s why we have the Gun Violence Task Force, where we have undercover agents working every day to get crime guns off the streets. The number of guns seized and arrests are up 40% in the City of Philadelphia,” Shapiro said.
The state AG’s office is also tracking the number of guns used in crimes across the state.READ MORE: Delaware Valley Elected Officials React To Texas School Shooting: 'These Victims Need More Than Thoughts & Prayers'
“Every one crime gun is used in roughly five different criminal activities,” Shapiro said.
The fight to keep these illegal guns out of the hands of criminals is multi-faceted. The AG’s office recently launched “Operation Lipstick,” an initiative aimed at educating and stopping women from buying weapons for convicted felons, in what authorities call “straw purchases.”
“That person buys the gun legally and then illegally transfers it to the person with the criminal record,” Shapiro said. “Rather than locking up these women, what we’ve tried to do is work with them in their community centers to educate and empower them to say no to the straw purchases.”
The attorney general cites strides being made but admits more work needs to be done, like enforcing laws already on the books to tackle tracking illegal guns.
“One of the most significant laws we’ve not been enforcing directly in law enforcement here in Pennsylvania is to actually record crime guns in a database and allow law enforcement to share that information,” Shapiro said.MORE NEWS: Delaware Gov. John Carney Vetoes Popular Marijuana Legalization Bill
That initiative launched by the AG’s office is called “Track and Trace.” Shapiro is continuing to also push for more collaboration between his office and law enforcement entities around the city and state as well.