Authorities have conducted two massive crackdowns on illegal guns in just the last two days.
Federal and local law enforcement announced Wednesday that they had made dozens of arrests and took more than one hundred guns off the streets in Polk County.
Tuesday, Hillsborough detectives said they had confiscated powerful weapons bought and sold on the black market, right across the street from an Elementary school in Gibsonton.
Law enforcement says the illegal gun trade is a growing problem, and it's a big reason for the rise in gun violence.
"We've run across guns. It's a common occurrence but these guys were sometimes seven times convicted felons who were out trading these guns on the street," Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said.
Undercover detectives in both Lakeland and Hillsborough County busted dozens of people this week, including convicted felons. In all, nearly 150 guns were rounded up between the two stings.
"In the last several years we have definitely seen an increase in gun violence. More people willing to use a gun, a weapon of some kind in the commission of a crime. That is certainly indicative of there being more guns on the street as well." Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack says.
Authorities say the undercover operations are a start to curbing the problem.
"This is phase one. It's certainly not cured the problem that we have but it's a step in the right direction." Chief Womack said.
Detectives in both agencies are now trying to trace the guns. But it won't be easy. Many look like they were stolen and are missing serial numbers, making it tough to know how many other illegal guns are still out there.
"With all this national debate that's going on, this comes down to the issue of how do we keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons, and how do we keep guns out of the hands of people that are mentally ill and don't have the capacity to have a firearm," Sheriff Gee said.
Lakeland Police Chief Lisa Womack told reporters the round up has special significance for her agency because one of their own, Officer Arnulfo Crispin, was shot to death on duty last November.
"While we were doing a very local operation, if we could get criminals and bad guys off the street for other areas, we were happy to do that as well," Womack said.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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