Allegheny County Launches Gun Violence Task Force, Aiming to Curb Illegal Firearm Activities

Attorney General Michelle HenryCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PITTSBURGH, PA — Attorney General Michelle Henry and Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala this week announced the formation of the Allegheny County Gun Violence Task Force. This collaborative network is designed to target illegal purchases and transfers of firearms and the violent crimes that often result from these transactions.

The task force represents a formalization and expansion of ongoing partnerships between the Office of Attorney General, Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, Allegheny County Police Department, Pittsburgh Police Department, and other local, state, and federal agencies. The objective is clear: to intensify the fight against firearms trafficking and gun violence in Allegheny County.

Funding allocated by the legislature will be used to hire new agents, attorneys, analysts, and administrators, each bringing specialized expertise and training to the table. This unified and structured approach aims to tackle the complexities of gun violence head-on.

The Office of Attorney General is particularly committed to combating straw purchasing—a practice where someone buys a firearm for an individual who is prohibited from owning one—gun trafficking, and illegal possession of firearms.

Since 2019, the Office of Attorney General’s Gun Violence Section has been working with law enforcement in Allegheny County to investigate and prosecute gun-related crimes. This work has resulted in 130 cases, 45 arrests, and 89 illegal firearms seized. These actions have included high-profile operations, such as a 2021 sting at the Monroeville Gun Show that resulted in the recovery of 19 firearms and seven arrests for straw purchases and other firearm offenses.

Another notable case occurred in December 2023, when agents from the Office of Attorney General Gun Violence Section and the Allegheny County Police Department arrested Leondre Johnson, a Pittsburgh man involved in firearms trafficking. A search of Johnson’s home yielded a straw-purchased firearm, ammunition, and other gun accessories, along with drugs and cash.

READ:  Carjackings in Decline: How Philadelphia’s Task Force is Reclaiming the Streets

These cases highlight the potential damage and devastation caused by illegal firearm activities. The newly formed task force aims to intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders of gun crimes, making Pennsylvania a safer place for all who live here.

The formation of the Allegheny County Gun Violence Task Force marks a potentially important step in Pennsylvania’s ongoing fight against gun violence. While it represents a significant commitment to addressing this issue, the task force’s success will depend on its ability to effectively collaborate, strategize, and execute its mission in the face of a complex and multifaceted problem. As Pennsylvanians watch this new initiative unfold, hopes are high that the task force will bring about a safer future for the state’s residents.

For the latest news on everything happening in Chester County and the surrounding area, be sure to follow MyChesCo on Google News and Microsoft Start.