- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - Criminals looking to get their hands on guns are targeting federal firearms dealers in South Mississippi.

“It’s a heavy burden for dealers and gun owners to know someone has stolen a firearm from them. It’s a worrying thing, wondering if a firearm you intended to sell, or bought for a collection piece or target shooting, will be used as a weapon of mass destruction.

“That’s why we work so hard on these cases,” Joel Lee of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1tpx6a6 ).

Lee says said have stolen dozens of firearms from gun and pawn shops since January in Harrison and Jackson counties. An additional 48 weapons, including machine guns, were stolen in May from a firearms dealer’s Moss Point home.

Mississippi ranked ninth nationwide in 2012 in the number of firearms reported stolen, ATF data shows. Of 3,439 guns stolen, 592, or 17 percent, were taken from gun dealers.

In that year, ATF’s Gulfport office seized more than 100 firearms, some with obliterated serial numbers, in a probe of gun trafficking.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

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