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‘A lethal river of steel’: Most illegal guns seized in Boston come from other states, Suffolk DA says

Guns on display during a May 12, 2022 press conference given by District Attorney Kevin Hayden with other law enforcement announcing a first-in-New England initiative combining local, state, and federal resources to stem the tide of illegal guns turning up on Boston streets.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

More than three-quarters of illegal firearms used in crimes in the Boston area originally came from other states, Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement Thursday, as he called for legislators and governors in states with “easy-access gun purchase laws” to consider the impact on cities such as Boston.

Hayden’s statement comes following a violent Fourth of July weekend in the city where police responded to more than a dozen shootings that left 10 people injured.

The violence continued after the long weekend as two groups of men in vehicles fired at each other on Revere Beach Parkway in Chelsea on Tuesday afternoon. One bullet struck the window of a nearby McDonald’s as people sat inside eating.


On Monday, Boston police seized a .38 caliber handgun from a 13-year-old, the statement said.

“There’s a lethal river of steel flowing from northern and southern states onto the streets of Boston, and our neighborhoods are suffering from it,” Hayden said in the statement. “When one state’s extreme interpretation of 2nd Amendment rights causes extreme suffering in another state it becomes a problem for all Americans.”

In May, Hayden’s office, Boston police, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives announced a project called the Boston Firearm Intelligence Review Shooting and Trafficking (Boston FIRST), which officials said is the first program in New England for which a multi-agency state and federal effort has been created to target gun traffickers in the city.

Hayden’s office said most illegal guns seized in Boston originated in Maine, New Hampshire, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, while some guns have also been traced to Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Ohio. About 61 percent of the 441 traceable guns seized in Boston last year were originally from those nine states, while about 15 percent came from other states, and 23 percent originated in Massachusetts, the district attorney’s office said.


“When more than three out of four guns seized in Boston come from out of state it tells me three things,” Hayden said in the statement. “First, gun laws in Massachusetts work well. Second, gun laws in many other states don’t. And third, gun traffickers know which states are easiest for them to amass their murderous inventory and which states are best to sell that inventory.”

Nick Stoico can be reached at Follow him @NickStoico.