UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Lieutenant Michael Curley of the Utica Police Department explains that this year, gun violence is prevalent in most upstate cities, but their department is actively working with the GIVE program, Street Outreach, and Save the Streets program.

“We’ve taken nearly 60 guns off the street year to date,” explained Curley, “We’ve taken six ghost guns, and we’re at the exact same number of shootings as we had last year.”

“So, it may feel like a little bit more, obviously high-profile incidents such as one we had Saturday kind of exacerbate the situation, but it’s no less different than we had in previous years,” he said.

“We’re really working very diligently to ensure that youth gun violence no longer occurs.”

According to New York State law, it’s illegal for minors to purchase a firearm – so where are they coming from?

“A lot of handguns come from out of state, the majority of handguns we trace that we’ve recovered have come from out-of-state locations, but we know that several gun store burglaries have happened in the previous years,” he said, “We’re recovering those guns still to this day.”

He continued, “You know, those are over 50, 60 guns that are on the city streets of Utica. A lot of times, individuals are stealing guns out of people’s unlocked vehicles, so we urge citizens, that it’s great to have a pistol permit, but you must issue due care with the care of that weapon.”

Do not leave it in an unlocked vehicle. Do not leave it in any vehicle, even if it’s locked. People are breaking into cars, you know, a lot of times burglaries occur where these guns are sold. Unfortunately, there’s a plethora of ways that these individuals are getting them.”

He adds that Raise the Age standards hamper their ability to handle youth gun violence.

“Many of the individuals we have arrested previously with handguns were arrested multiple times with handguns due to the lax standards of Raise the Age,” he explained.

“They’re not being prosecuted fully unless there’s an associated crime, such as a shooting or an assault, the mere possession of a handgun keeps that individual in family court and they’re doing the very best they can.”

“It’s no fault of their own,” he said, “However, due to New York State standards, there’s not a lot that can be done to juveniles.”