Gun violence, firearm-related convictions up in Montana
Data from the U.S. attorney for the District of Montana's office show a record number of firearm offense charges in the state last year.
At a news conference in Billings on March 1, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana Jesse Laslovich said his office indicted 167 people for gun-related crimes in 2022, the highest number in the last decade.
A local representative with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimates roughly three-fourths of guns seized in Billings are stolen.
ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge Kirk Howard said many people involved in gun violence have prior convictions.
“The ATF has observed some notable trends here in Billings such as the fact that firearms stolen from vehicles… are often recovered in violent crimes, and most shootings involve narcotics,” he said.
According to the Billings Police Department, there have been thee homicides so far this year, two involving firearms.
Authorities say that among the ongoing solutions to violent crime are federal programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods, which launched in Billings in 2018 and targets high-crime areas.