Weapons Convictions for May 2013

Number Latest Month 544
Percent Change from previous month -8.4
Percent Change from 1 year ago -1.3
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -13.5
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -13.7
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during May 2013 the government reported 544 new weapons convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 8.4% 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 2013 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was only slightly down (-1.3 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 13.5 percent from levels reported in 2008.

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 May 2013 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of convictions. See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for weapons convictions in May 2013 was ATF accounting for 72 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons convictions were: FBI (14% ), Local (5%), DHS (4%), 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 May 2013, 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 May 2013, 544 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during May 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 May.

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 May 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 427 1 1 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 24 2 5 6 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 21 3 2 2 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 21 3 3 5 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 12 5 4 4 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 9 6 6 3 More
18 USC 842 - Explosives - Importation, manufacture, etc 7 7 14 9 More
22 USC 2778 - Control of arms exports and imports 7 7 10 10 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 4 9 9 8 More
18 USC 2117 - Breaking or entering carrier facilities 3 10 - - 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 "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846. "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 6 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd were "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 and "Hobbs Act" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951. "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago."Hobbs Act" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 5 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in convictions—up 257.1 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—112.5 percent—was registered for convictions under " Control of arms exports and imports " (Title 22 U.S.C Section 2778 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down 20 percent—was Bank robbery and incidental crimes (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 ). This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 53.8 %—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In May 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 212.6 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  
Tenn, W 1,544 20 1 13 13 More
N Car, M 992 23 2 12 45 More
Vermont 965 5 3 68 75 More
N Mexico 717 12 4 13 42 More
Tenn, E 669 14 5 10 12 More
Okla, N 595 5 6 57 40 More
Ill, S 565 6 7 31 83 More
Iowa, S 563 8 8 33 33 More
Mo, E 495 12 9 20 2 More
Ga, S 493 6 10 23 21 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis)—with 1544 convictions as compared with 212.6 convictions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during May 2013.

  • The Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) ranked 2nd.

  • District of Vermont is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro), now ranked 2nd , and Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) at 1st In the same order, these districts ranked 12th and 13th one year ago and 45th and 13th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of weapons convictions compared to one year ago— 46.7 percent—was Vermont . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 218.2 percent—was Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of weapons convictions— 27.3 percent—was Northern District of Oklahoma (Tulsa).  But over the past five years, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) showed the largest drop— 59.7 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 resulting in convictions of this type during May 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Sparks, Sam Texas, W 14 1 More
Beaty, James A., Jr. N Car, M 10 2 More
Anderson, Stanley Thomas Tenn, W 7 3 More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 7 3 More
Schroeder, Thomas D. N Car, M 6 5 More
McCalla, Jon Phipps Tenn, W 6 5 More
Bryant, Vanessa Lynne Conn 5 7 More
Caldwell, Karen K. Ken, E 5 7 More
Autrey, Henry Edward Mo, E 5 7 More
Boyle, Terrence William N Car, E 5 7 More
Harwell, Robert Bryan S Car 5 7 More
Collier, Curtis Lynn Tenn, E 5 7 More
Breen, J. Daniel Tenn, W 5 7 More
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 5 7 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

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 convictions per capita, while the remaining 7 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 14 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Sam Sparks in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 1st with 14 convicted in weapons convictions.

  • Judge James A. Beaty, Jr. in the Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) ranked 2nd with 10 convicted in weapons convictions.

  • Judges Stanley Thomas Anderson in the Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) and Ricardo H. Hinojosa in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 3rd with 7 convicted in weapons convictions.

Report Generated: July 22, 2013
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