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NEW YORK –– When news came out that the handgun used to assassinate NYPD Officer, Miosotis Familia, had been reported stolen in West Virginia, many in the police department were not surprised.

Southern guns have killed most of the NYPD cops who were fatally shot in the line of duty in recent years.

On December 20, 2014, Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were assassinated in their Brooklyn patrol car by a gun that was bought in Georgia.  Less than six months later, Officer Brian Moore was shot in the face in Queens Village with a stolen gun from the same state. All three officers were posthumously promoted to detectives first grade.

Later in 2015, Officer Randolph Holder was fatally shot in the head by a suspect he was chasing, near the FDR Drive in East Harlem. The gun used to kill Holder was stolen from the car of a South Carolina state trooper in 2011. Holder was also posthumously promoted to detective first grade.

Many of the guns make their way to New York by way of I-95, a route often referred to as the “Iron Pipeline.”  Six states, in particular, are part of that pipeline: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

In 2007, Officer Russell Timoshenko was shot in the face twice in Brooklyn, by a gun that came to the city by way of Virginia.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms took PIX11 on a tour of its “gun cage” in Brooklyn in 2009.

Ronald Turk was the Special Agent in Charge of the New York ATF office back then; he’s now the No. 2 person in charge of the entire agency.

In 2009, Turk was giving the same kinds of information we’re getting today, eight years later.

“The vast majority of the illegal guns–the guns used for crimes, especially handguns–are coming from the South,” Turk said.

A report from the New York State Attorney General’s office looked at  a five-year period between 2010 and 2015. It found that 90 % of the handguns seized in that time came from these six states.