Profile No. 14

West Virginia Firearms Violations Task Force -- Charleston, WV

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Task force to monitor Federal firearms licensees; Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Program Goal:
To reduce the number of illegal weapons and gun violence.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Illegal gun traffickers.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
West Virginia.

Evaluated by:
Internal data collection; Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, DC.

Contact Information:
Trooper Barrington Gore
West Virginia State Police
900 One Valley Square
Charleston, WV 25301
Phone: 304­558­2600

Years of Operation:

In South Charleston, WV, the West Virginia State Police formed the Firearms Violations Task Force (FVTF) in response to a significant rise in violent crime and illegal firearm trafficking in West Virginia. FVTF is made up of personnel from ATF and full-time investigators from the West Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The mission of the task force is to reduce firearm trafficking and firearm-related violent crime. FVTF collects, analyzes, and disseminates criminal intelligence information relating to firearm violations in West Virginia and other jurisdictions and investigates individuals who traffic illegally in firearms and who commit violent crimes with firearms. In addition, the task force conducts comprehensive background investigations on applicants for new or renewal FFL's to ensure dealer compliance with Federal, State, and local laws. The investigations help screen out applicants with a prior criminal record, ethical breaches, or history of mental illness. Onsite inspections are conducted to ensure that the building where the dealer operates meets security requirements. The task force also educates applicants and licensees regarding the illegal sale or purchase of firearms.

From April 1994 through December 1996, FVTF made 55 arrests for firearm-related offenses and obtained the convictions of 34 individuals, 23 of whom were incarcerated for their crimes. Prior to the creation of the task force, these offenders likely would not have been prosecuted because of staffing shortages, ignorance of Federal statutes, and other factors.

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