Five men were indicted in New Jersey yesterday on charges of illegally selling guns bought in Bucks County sporting goods stores to buyers in Trenton.
Of the eight guns the men were accused of selling, two were used in shootings, including one that was fired at a Trenton police officer in 2004, the New Jersey Attorney General's office said.
Police in Trenton and Pennsauken recovered seven of the weapons - two rifles and five handguns.
The five defendants were indicted separately, and they are not believed to be connected.
Three are from Bucks County - Donald Clark, 36, and Nicholas James Titus, 39, both of Morrisville, and Matthew McGinty, 26, of Doylestown.
The others are Arthur Arrison, 52, of Hamilton, N.J., and Benjamin Travers, 50, of Trenton.
Most of the guns they were accused of selling were recovered in crimes. One was found discarded in an area of Trenton that authorities described as known for gang activity and drugs.
One weapon was recovered from Terrance Travers - no relation to Benjamin Travers - who was convicted of firing it at a Trenton police officer. He was wounded when police returned fire.
"We're literally prosecuting people who bought guns and put them in the hands of people who use them to shoot at police officers," said state Attorney General Anne Milgram.
The charges are the first to arise from a partnership formed last year between the state and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The arrangement, the only one of its kind in the nation, allows New Jersey police agencies to trace firearms used in crimes through an ATF database.
The database lists a gun's first buyer, date of sale and the retailer that sold it. The ATF relies on information sent to it by local police departments, but only 30 percent of departments nationwide participate.
Last year, Milgram ordered all police agencies in New Jersey to give gun-sale information to the ATF. She said yesterday that she hopes more states will follow New Jersey's lead.
The majority of the guns used in crimes in New Jersey - 72 percent - come from out of state, according to ATF statistics. The largest share - 14 percent - come from Pennsylvania.
New Jersey's initiatives are meant to target "straw purchasers" who buy guns legally and sell them to criminals who are barred from owning firearms.
"It's critical for us to target these folks," Milgram said.
She said the indictments of the men accused of bringing guns from Pennsylvania to New Jersey "confirms what we knew to be true" about the flow of illegal weapons into the state.
The Attorney General's Office did not identify the Bucks County stores that sold the guns because the initial sales were legal.
Milgram said investigators are pursuing more cases against straw buyers traced through the ATF partnership.
"This is really just the start," she said.