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US attorney in N.H. doubts a Boston gun conduit report

CONCORD, N.H. -- The US attorney for New Hampshire has disputed an accusation by Boston police that lax gun laws in northern New England are partly responsible for an increase in Concord gun crimes.

The US attorney, Thomas Colantuono, was quoted as saying in Foster's Sunday Citizen, a newspaper covering the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, that the accusation was an ''urban myth" that does not stand up to the facts.

Data collected by the federal ''Project Safe Neighborhoods" have found that most of the guns used in Massachusetts crimes come from within that state, Colantuono said. The data also have reported that fewer than 10 percent of the guns used in Massachusetts crimes come from New Hampshire. , Georgia, he said, is the top source of out-of-state guns.

In addition, many of the guns traced to New Hampshire were sold several years ago, contrary to Boston officials' assertions that New Hampshire guns are contributing to a recent surge in shootings and other gun crimes, he said.

Boston officials reported that the number of guns they had seized was up 34 percent, and that the number of gun-related arrests had increased 39 percent through early November, compared with the period a year earlier.

A Boston Police Department spokesman, Sergeant Thomas Sexton, said stricter gun laws in northern New England would help solve the problem.

Massachusetts requires residents to pay $100 for a state permit when buying any gun; New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont do not require state permits.

While some guns used in Massachusetts crimes still come from the South and the West Coast, city police are finding more guns ''coming from a lot closer to home," Sexton said.

The Rev. Bruce Wall, who lives in Boston and owns a house in New Hampshire, said Boston police had told him of a New Hampshire-to-Boston gun corridor.

Sam Cohen, a director of Gun Owners of New Hampshire, state chapter of the National Rifle Association, said laws are strict enough. Gun dealers must follow the gun laws of a buyer's home state, and dealers at both stores and shows must do background checks on customers, he said.

Ralph Demicco, co-owner of Riley's Sport Shop in Hooksett, said federal law forbids people from buying handguns outside their home states, although that does not apply to rifles. Gun dealers also are trained to look out for state residents who buy large numbers of guns, he said.

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