Denver police on track to seize record number of illegal guns

DENVER -- Following a historic year for homicides in 2018, Denver Police are pushing new efforts to seize illegal guns, specifically guns that are stolen or used in violent crimes.

So far in 2019, DPD is averaging more than 4 seizures every day, putting the department on pace for more than 1,600 by the end of the year.

"Our goal is to get the guns out of the hands of people that are going to use the guns for illegal purposes," says Division Chief Joe Montoya.

"If you get the gun through proper means, it's registered, and you're a responsible owner, we have no issue with that."

Police Chief Paul Pazen highlighted the goal following a deadly shootout in LoDo last weekend.

That shooting killed 1 person, and police are still searching for two suspects believed to be armed.

Police say an argument between two men quickly escalated. Both were carrying weapons.

"I think there's always a black market for weapons," says Montoya. "Last year alone, we had 218 guns taken out of cars. Whoever has their hands on those, it's not for good purposes."

As of March 14th, police have seized 320 guns in 2019.

That's up from 305 last year, and 228 at this point in 2017.

Those guns are entered into a forensic database called NIBIN, before being destroyed.

"We'll test fire them to determine whether or not they've been used in other crimes," says Montoya. "It's basically a DNA pool for weapons."

Montoya says the ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of violent crime in Denver.

"We want to continue to take these guns off the streets," he says.

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