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New Website Aimed at Tracking Down Firearm Violators in Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Sheriff's office has announced the formation of the Firearms Violation Fugitives web page. The new permanent feature of the sheriff's website provides pictures, descriptions, and charges of all new offenders wanted for firearm-related crimes.

"The public can call in and give us information. The public has been complaining about it. We're giving the public a chance to help in cleaning up their community and perhaps minimizing the amount of shootings that are occurring, and homicides," said Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen.

These are people known to possess a firearm, but without the proper permits. The municipality of each fugitive is listed under his or her photo, which law enforcement officials consider to be a critical piece of information in catching the violators. The sheriff's office has other "most wanted" sections on its website. The public has been key in nabbing several people.

"What's occurred in our other endeavors with the most wanted and websites is people have been extremely accurate, saying the people we're looking for are on a particular porch or particular corner and this is what they're wearing, so we're trying to build on that success," said Mullen. "Now, whether or not it'll carry over to the firearms violators? It will at least give the community something to do about the crime in their community."

When it comes to guns, though, some people fear retaliation or other problems in turning people over to authorities. Mullen said the office has tried to take that fear out of the equation. "The people that call in, they don't have to give their name or anything like that, and they will never be asked to testify. All they're going to do is call in anonymously or go to our website and use our interactive tip sheet, which is also an anonymous way."

There are currently 37 people on the Firearms Violation Fugitives site. Not all have pulled the trigger or are linked to gun violence, but Mullen said the simple act of possessing a firearm illegally can lead to violence.