'There are a lot of guns in this city'

Lost or stolen police-issued firearms make up just a small percentage of guns reported lost or stolen in Philadelphia each year.

According to statistics provided by Philadelphia police, 2,747 civilians reported their guns stolen and 212 reported their guns lost between 2011 and 2015.

Of those guns, 1,433 have been recovered, the department said.

Jay Wachtel, a retired investigator with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, said gun thefts are likely "overreported" and that the numbers may include straw purchasers who falsely report guns stolen if they are later used in the commission of a crime.

According to the ATF, there were 8,929 guns recovered and traced in 2014 in Pennsylvania - 3,187 of which were recovered in Philadelphia.

Of the total number of guns recovered and traced in the state, 222 - or 2 percent - were used in a homicide, the report said.

The agency determined that the average so-called time to crime for guns stolen and then used in a crime was 10.93 years in Pennsylvania, just above the national average of 10.88 years.

According to the report, a majority of the guns recovered and traced in Pennsylvania - 4,962 - originated in this state.

"It's pretty obvious that you are a weak-law state because you don't need traffickers to go into other states and get guns for you, it's so easy to get guns in Pennsylvania," Wachtel said.

Pennsylvania is also a big provider of illegal weapons to other states, Wachtel said. According to the ATF, Pennsylvania was the second biggest provider of illegal guns recovered in neighboring states New Jersey and Delaware in 2014, following the home states. It was third in Maryland and fourth in New York.

Kelvyn Anderson, exec,utive director of the Police Advisory Commission, called those numbers "troubling."

"This just shows . . . how many weapons are in circulation in our society, particularly in a city like Philadelphia," Anderson said. "There are a lot of guns in this city."

farrs@phillynews.com

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