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Firearms tracking device urged

Saying gun manufacturers should take steps to track guns, a Boston city councilor is proposing that global positioning technology be installed in firearms.

Councilor Rob Consalvo wants to put a tracking device into newly manufactured guns and have legal gun owners retrofit their firearms so owners and police can locate and retrieve stolen guns the same way police use a computer chip to locate stolen cars.

''Let's use that same technology to track weapons so we know where they are when they're stolen or bought illegally," he said. ''I think it's a common-sense idea."

Consalvo has asked Springfield-based Smith & Wesson, one of the world's largest gun manufacturers, to meet with him to discuss the proposal.

Tom Taylor, Smith & Wesson's vice president of marketing, said yesterday that the company had not yet reviewed the proposal, and declined to comment.

Some gun-rights advocates would likely oppose any effort to install tracking devices. Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners' Action League said that tracking devices would threaten individual privacy.

''We don't live in a society where the government starts tracking the things we own," Wallace said. ''It's just simply absurd."

Gun-related arrests have gone up 37 percent in the last year, and gun violence has risen 77 percent in the last three years, Consalvo said. Many guns, he added, are stolen from legal owners or smuggled into Massachusetts from surrounding states and sold illegally at flea markets and gun shows.

Consalvo acknowledged that the cost of manufacturing guns with such a device could be high, but that it would be worth it.

Russell Nichols

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