Weapons Prosecutions for February 2014
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2014 the government reported 522 new weapons prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 4.2% 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 2014 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-6.9 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 23.3 percent from levels reported in 2009.
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 February 2014 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of prosecutions. See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for weapons prosecutions in February 2014
was ATF accounting for 70 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons referrals were:
DHS (9% ), Local (9%), FBI (7%), 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 February 2014, 65 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 February 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 70.8 percent of all magistrate filings in February.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties" (7.7%), "22 USC 2778 - Control of arms exports and imports" (7.7%).
Weapons Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In February 2014, 457 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during February there
were an additional 76 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 February.
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 February 2014.
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 "Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts" under Title 26 U.S.C Section 5861.
"Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts" under Title 26 U.S.C Section 5861 was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 171.4 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 2119
that involves " Carjacking
This was the same statute that had the largest increase—137.5 %—when compared with five years ago.
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 28.6 percent—was
Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A
(Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 50 percent—was
for filings where the lead charge was " Robbery/burglary - Special jurisdiction
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2111
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In February 2014 the Justice Department said the government brought 203.8 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 Southern District of Alabama (Mobile)—with 1582 prosecutions as compared with 203.8 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during February 2014.
The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) ranked 2nd.
The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) was ranked 10 a year ago, while it was ranked 6 for most frequent use five years ago.
Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville), now ranked
, and Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis)
In the same order, these districts ranked 13th and 16th one year ago and 14th and 2nd five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of weapons prosecutions compared to one year ago— 32.3 percent—was
Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville).
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 114.9 percent—was
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of weapons prosecutions— 47.2 percent—was
Southern District of Georgia (Savannah).
This was the same district that had the largest increase— 70.8 percent—when compared with five years ago.
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 February 2014 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 2 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 8 judges were from other districts.
Judges Carmen Consuelo Cerezo in the District of Puerto Rico and Melinda Harmon in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 1st with 11 defendants in weapons cases.
Judge Daniel R. Dominguez in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 3rd with 10 defendants in weapons cases.
Report Generated: April 24, 2014