Weapons Prosecutions for August 2012
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2012 the government reported 571 new weapons prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 13.7% over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with weapons-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See
When monthly 2012 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was up (2.8 percent).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 15 percent from levels reported in 2007.
Figure 1: Monthly trends in weapons prosecutions
The decrease from the levels five years ago in weapons prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of weapons prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month
basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court,
the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends.
The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Within the broad category of weapons, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within weapons are
The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in August 2012 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of prosecutions. See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for weapons prosecutions in August 2012
was ATF accounting for 77 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons referrals were:
FBI (7% ), DHS (5%), Local (4%), DEA (2%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions
Figure 3: Prosecutions by investigative agency
Weapons Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In August 2012, 78 defendants
in weapons cases for these matters were
filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In
addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before
an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter
starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court
where subsequent proceedings take place.
In the magistrate courts in August the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 involving the "Firearms; Unlawful acts". This was the lead charge
for 82.1 percent of all magistrate filings in August.
Weapons Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In August 2012, 493 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there
were an additional 69 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate
courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information
was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and
therefore cover all matters filed in district court during August.
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of weapons matters
filed in U.S. District Court during August 2012.
Table 2: Top charges filed
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924.
"Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841.
"Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 was ranked 6 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 400 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 842
that involves " Explosives - Importation, manufacture, etc
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—1000 percent—was registered for
prosecutions under " Smuggling goods from the United States
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 554 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 18.7 percent—was
Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts
(Title 26 U.S.C Section 5861 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 49.2 %—when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In August 2012 the Justice Department said the government brought 219.7 weapons prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of weapons prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of prosecutions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3.
Districts must have at least 5 weapons prosecutions to receive a ranking.
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)
The District of Alaska—with 1051 prosecutions as compared with 219.7 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during August 2012.
The District of Kansas ranked 2nd.
The District of Kansas was ranked 5 a year ago.
Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), now ranked
, and Western District of Tennessee (Memphis)
In the same order, these districts ranked 15th and 16th one year ago and 6th and 9th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of weapons prosecutions compared to one year ago— 53.3 percent—was
This was the same district that had the largest increase— 187.5 percent—when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of weapons prosecutions— 13.8 percent—was
Northern District of Florida (Pensacola).
But over the past five years,
Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
showed the largest drop— 32.5 percent.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new weapons crime cases of this type during August 2012 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 4 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of weapons filings per capita, while the remaining 7 judges were from other districts.
(Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge J. Curtis Joyner in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) ranked 1st with 15 defendants in weapons cases.
Judges Mark Allan Goldsmith in the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit) and William M. Skretny in the Western District of New York (Buffalo) ranked 2nd with 7 defendants in weapons cases.
Report Generated: November 19, 2012