Weapons Prosecutions for May 2013
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during May 2013 the government reported 627 new weapons prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 11.7% 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 2013 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-9.2 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 15.3 percent from levels reported in 2008.
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 May 2013 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of prosecutions. See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for weapons prosecutions in May 2013
was ATF accounting for 74 percent of prosecutions referred.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons referrals were:
FBI (8% ), DHS (6%), Local (5%), DEA (3%).
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 May 2013, 81 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 May 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 75.3 percent of all magistrate filings in May.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties" (13.6%), "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (7.4%).
Weapons Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In May 2013, 546 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during May there
were an additional 85 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 May.
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 May 2013.
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 200 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 26 U.S.C Section 5845
that involves " Tax on Making Firearms
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—100 percent—was registered for
prosecutions under " Explosives - Importation and storage of explosives
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 844 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 75 percent—was
(Title 18 U.S.C Section 2119 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 80 %—when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In May 2013 the Justice Department said the government brought 246.6 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 Wyoming—with 2205 prosecutions as compared with 246.6 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during May 2013.
The Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) ranked 2nd.
Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Western District of Tennessee (Memphis), now ranked
, and Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro)
In the same order, these districts ranked 11th and 16th one year ago and 3rd and 12th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of weapons prosecutions compared to one year ago— 122.9 percent—was
Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 90 percent—was
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of weapons prosecutions— 24.5 percent—was
But over the past five years,
Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis)
showed the largest drop— 33.6 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 May 2013 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 7 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 3 judges were from other districts.
Judge Julie A. Robinson in the District of Kansas ranked 1st with 15 defendants in weapons cases.
Judges Dean Whipple in the Western District of Missouri (Kansas City), J. Daniel Breen in the Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) and Barbara M. Lynn in the Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth) ranked 2nd with 9
defendants in weapons cases.
Report Generated: July 22, 2013