Weapons Convictions for February 2014

Number Latest Month 532
Percent Change from previous month -6.8
Percent Change from 1 year ago -6.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -17.2
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -17.1
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 Table 1)

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.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

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

  • Armed Career Criminal Act

  • Firearms/Triggerlock

  • Other Operation Triggerlock Prosecutions

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.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of convictions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

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.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 431 1 1 1 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 29 2 2 2 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 17 3 3 4 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 15 4 5 5 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 14 5 4 3 More
18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States 8 6 8 - More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 4 7 5 6 More
18 USC 842 - Explosives - Importation, manufacture, etc 2 8 9 14 More
18 USC 2119 - Carjacking 2 8 11 9 More
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1 10 21 14 More
18 USC 2 - Aiding and Abetting 1 10 - - More
18 USC 4 - Misprision of Felony 1 10 28 18 More
18 USC 641 - Public money, property or records 1 10 21 - More
18 USC 1959 - Violent crimes in aid of racketeering activity 1 10 28 16 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 1 10 9 8 More
18 USC 3583 - Term of supervised release after imprisonment 1 10 15 - More
26 USC 5845 - Tax on Making Firearms 1 10 23 11 More
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.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Ala, S 1,726 12 1 30 46 More
N Car, M 1,010 24 2 9 28 More
Ga, S 858 11 3 30 28 More
W Virg, S 775 6 4 63 58 More
Tenn, E 658 14 5 14 24 More
Ga, M 657 11 6 52 42 More
Mo, W 618 16 7 10 10 More
Tenn, W 607 8 8 4 7 More
Texas, W 601 33 9 2 2 More
N Mexico 575 10 10 19 26 More
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 5th , and New Mexico at 10th 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.

Judge Count Rank  
Moses, Alia Texas, W 10 1 More
Beaty, James A., Jr. N Car, M 9 2 More
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 8 3 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 7 4 More
Goldsmith, Mark Allan Mich, E 6 5 More
Limbaugh, Stephen Nathaniel, Jr. Mo, E 6 5 More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 6 5 More
Treadwell, Marc Thomas Ga, M 5 8 More
Dever, James C., III N Car, E 5 8 More
Coogler, L. Scott Ala, N 4 10 More
Granade, Callie V. Ala, S 4 10 More
Steele, William H. Ala, S 4 10 More
Jorgenson, Cindy K. Arizona 4 10 More
Jonker, Robert James Mich, W 4 10 More
Fenner, Gary A. Mo, W 4 10 More
Osteen, William Lindsay, Jr. N Car, M 4 10 More
Arcara, Richard Joseph N. Y., W 4 10 More
Collier, Curtis Lynn Tenn, E 4 10 More
Biery, Samuel Frederick, Jr. Texas, W 4 10 More
Smith, Walter Scott, Jr. Texas, W 4 10 More
Stadtmueller, Joseph Peter Wisc, E 4 10 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

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
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Copyright 2014, TRAC Reports, Inc.

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