BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins says the federal government should make a program aimed at fighting gun violence permanent.

The federal VIPER task force was launched in Buffalo and other parts of the region in June to try and bring down gun crime.

A few months later, Higgins is now commending VIPER’s success.

In early September, the program was extended through October. And Higgins says he wants to extend it for a second time.

Right now, it’s set to expire at the end of the month. Higgins says it’s been working.

“VIPER has been remarkably successful at stemming gun violence and saving lives,” Higgins says. “Buffalo has seen a 50 percent decrease — a 50 percent decrease in homicides since the program started.”

Higgins says gun violence is a local and nationwide problem.

He cited a recent report by the FBI showing the number of murders in the U.S. spiking by 30 percent over the past year.