Weapons Convictions for February 2014
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Convictions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2014 the government reported 532 new weapons convictions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 6.8% over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for 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 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of convictions was down (-6 percent).
Convictions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are down 17.2 percent from levels reported in 2009.
Figure 1: Monthly trends in weapons convictions
The decrease from the levels five years ago in weapons convictions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1.
The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of weapons convictions 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 convictions of these matters in February 2014 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of convictions. See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for weapons convictions in February 2014
was ATF accounting for 75 percent of convictions.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons convictions were:
FBI (8% ), DHS (5%), Local (3%), DEA (2%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Figure 3: Convictions by investigative agency
Weapons Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In February 2014, no 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.
Weapons Convictions in U.S. District Courts
In February 2014, 530 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during February there
were an additional 0 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 convictions of weapons matters
filed in U.S. District Court during February 2014.
Table 2: Top charges for convictions
"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 "Hobbs Act" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951.
"Hobbs Act" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in convictions—up 300 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 4
that involves " Misprision of Felony
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—150 percent—was registered for
convictions under " Explosives - Importation, manufacture, etc
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 842 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down 71.4 percent—was
Term of supervised release after imprisonment
(Title 18 U.S.C Section 3583 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in convictions— 81.8 percent—was
for convictions where the lead charge was " Tax on Making Firearms
" (Title 26 U.S.C Section 5845
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In February 2014 the Justice Department said the government obtained 202.6 weapons convictions for every ten million people in the United States.
Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of weapons convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of convictions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3.
Districts must have at least 5 weapons convictions to receive a ranking.
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)
The Southern District of Alabama (Mobile)—with 1726 convictions as compared with 202.6 convictions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during February 2014.
The Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) ranked 2nd.
The Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) was ranked 9 a year ago.
Southern District of Georgia (Savannah) is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of Tennessee (Knoxville), now ranked
, and New Mexico
In the same order, these districts ranked 14th and 19th one year ago and 24th and 26th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of weapons convictions compared to one year ago— 53.7 percent—was
Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro).
This was the same district that had the largest increase— 142.3 percent—when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of weapons convictions— 48.3 percent—was
New Mexico .
This was the same district that had the largest increase— 41.5 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 resulting in convictions of this type
during February 2014 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 11 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of weapons convictions per capita, while the remaining 10 judges were from other districts.
(Because of ties, there were a total of 21 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Alia Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 1st with 10 convicted in weapons convictions.
Judge James A. Beaty, Jr. in the Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) ranked 2nd with 9 convicted in weapons convictions.
Judge Marcia A. Crone in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 3rd with 8 convicted in weapons convictions.
Report Generated: April 24, 2014