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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Baltimore is piloting a software program developed by Everytown for Gun Safety that will enable it for the first time to identify patterns of gun trafficking and illegal sales.

Why it matters: If successful, this crime-fighting software — which draws data from multiple systems and connects the dots — could be used to crack down in many cities where gun violence is a big problem.

Driving the news: Everytown, the gun control advocacy group, worked in-house and with an outside software developer to create the tool — described first to Axios — and partnered with Baltimore to tailor it to the city's needs.

  • The system — dubbed "Gun Trafficking Intelligence Platform" — looks at weapons involved in crimes and works to identify patterns.
  • It can pinpoint gun shows and individual dealers who serve as major suppliers, plus the names of repeat "straw purchasers," who buy firearms on behalf of prohibited buyers. 
  • "By aggregating data, you are not solving one crime at a time, but you’re actually seeing patterns that allow you to unlock trafficking enterprises," John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, tells Axios.
  • "Cities have been operating largely in the dark, and this tool is really a flashlight."

Where it stands: Baltimore has suffered from high rates of gun violence for years. While it has strong gun control laws — as does Maryland — it sits on the I-95 corridor, where guns flow in from states with weaker laws.

  • Of the 2,543 weapons seized in Baltimore in 2020, 63% came from outside the state, and 82% from outside the city, Mayor Brandon M. Scott tells Axios.
  • "We are a city that’s been dealing with this epidemic of gun violence as long as I’ve been alive," Scott says.

Between the lines: Feinblatt of Everytown says weak federal laws thwart the ability of law enforcement to see the type of patterns illuminated by the software tool.

  • "We have federal laws that have been put into place largely through the advocacy of the N.R.A. that suppress this type of information," he says.
  • "It makes it difficult to actually see who are the worst gun dealers in the country" as well as " those gun dealers that consistently pop up" as the source of weapons involved in crimes.

The bottom line: Gun violence takes a disproportionate toll on cities and communities of color, and this tool could potentially help make people safer.

  • "Baltimore is a great test case, and, if successful there, I think that we will move it to other cities," Feinblatt says.

Go deeper

Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Suspect in FedEx shooting identified as 19-year-old former FedEx employee Brandon Hole

Crime scene investigators walk through the FedEx parking lot in Indianapolis the day after a mass shooting left nine dead, including the gunman, who took his own life. Photo: Jeff Dean/AFP via Getty Images.

The suspected gunman in Thursday's mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility that left at least eight people dead and multiple others wounded, has been identified by local police as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, who was a former employee of FedEx, a company spokesperson Bonny Harrison told the AP.

The latest: At least 100 people were in the building at the time of the mass shooting, authorities said Friday. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Deputy Chief Craig McCartt told reporters that Hole worked at FedEx through 2020. He did specify the circumstances of Hole’s departure.

The legacy of Bernie Madoff

Bernie Madoff, architect of the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, died on Wednesday in federal prison, 11 years into his 150-year sentence.

Axios Re:Cap digs into Madoff’s crimes, what they revealed about America's financial system and what changed after the scheme came crashing down with Diana B. Henriques, author of the The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Russia to expel 10 U.S diplomats, ban top Biden officials in response to sanctions

Photo: Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images

Russia will expel 10 U.S. diplomats and add eight current and former U.S. officials to its no-entry list in retaliation for sanctions that the Biden administration leveled at Moscow on Friday, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday.

Why it matters: The measures come after the U.S. said it would expel 10 Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover, as part of a broad package of sanctions retaliating against the SolarWinds hack of federal agencies and Russia's interference in the 2020 election.