EXCLUSIVE: San Francisco officers seize nearly 3 guns a day, a 5 year high

Broadcasts over police radios detail the arms race on San Francisco’s streets, one that police are out to win. Numbers obtained by KTVU show San Francisco police recovered 1,085 illegal guns in 2015 – or nearly 3 a day. In 2014, there were a total of 1,053 guns confiscated, and in 2013 there were 982.

“They come across guns like people have phones on them,” said Raj Vaswani, captain at the Bayview station.

Officers in the Bayview recovered 304 guns, the most of any station. 

Standing next to a table displaying 12 of the firearms his officers seized, Vaswani said it was a “frustrating” milestone because too often the people arrested are quickly released.

“Many of the people that are possessing these guns, they get back out and they go buy a new gun,” he said.

Illegal guns are considered by law enforcement as the gateway crime to committing murder.

Many of the weapons Vaswani showed KTVU, had indeed been used to kill.

“These guns are related to some very violent people,” he said.  “They’ve been used in shootings, in homicides and to assault our police officers.”

Vaswani said the stepped-up seizure efforts contributed to a 15-percent decline in the number of shootings in the Bayview last year.

He told KTVU, officers often find guns during traffic stops for minor infractions or suspicious behavior and that they try to target repeat offenders before they commit more serious crimes.

Vaswani praised his officers, but said the real solution relies on stiffer penalties for those caught with illegal guns.

“There need to be more consequences,” the police captain said.