Weapons Convictions for October 2012

Number Latest Month 533
Percent Change from previous month -25.8
Percent Change from 1 year ago 5.4
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -14.8
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -14.7
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2012 the government reported 533 new weapons convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 25.8% 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 2012 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of convictions was up (5.4 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 14.8 percent from levels reported in 2007.

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 October 2012 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of convictions. See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for weapons convictions in October 2012 was ATF accounting for 75 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons convictions were: FBI (12% ), DHS (5%), Local (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 October 2012, 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 October 2012, 531 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October 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 October.

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 October 2012.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 423 1 1 1 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 28 2 3 6 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 25 3 2 2 More
18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States 10 4 9 - More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 7 5 4 3 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 7 5 6 5 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 5 7 5 4 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 4 8 7 7 More
18 USC 844 - Explosives - Importation and storage of explosives 4 8 11 12 More
18 USC 3583 - Term of supervised release after imprisonment 3 10 13 18 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 "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 6 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "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.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in convictions—up 164.7 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 554 that involves " Smuggling goods from the United States ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—200 percent—was registered for convictions under " Term of supervised release after imprisonment " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 3583 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down 21.1 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 convictions— 44.1 percent—was for convictions where the lead charge was " Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts " (Title 26 U.S.C Section 5861 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2012 the Justice Department said the government obtained 207.6 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  
Okla, E 984 6 1 90 92 More
Tenn, W 927 12 2 2 15 More
Ill, S 754 8 3 37 82 More
S Dakota 739 5 4 86 89 More
Iowa, S 704 10 5 37 68 More
Mo, E 701 17 6 12 2 More
Wash, E 652 8 7 48 36 More
Okla, W 616 10 8 53 64 More
Penn, E 609 29 9 4 10 More
N Car, M 604 14 10 18 22 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Eastern District of Oklahoma (Muskogee)—with 984 convictions as compared with 207.6 convictions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during October 2012.

  • The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) ranked 2nd. The Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) was ranked 2 a year ago.

  • Southern District of Illinois (East St. Louis) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis), now ranked 6th , and Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) at 10th In the same order, these districts ranked 12th and 18th one year ago and 2nd and 22nd five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of weapons convictions compared to one year ago— 260 percent—was Eastern District of Oklahoma (Muskogee). This was the same district that had the largest increase— 800 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— 20.5 percent—was Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis).  This was the same district that had the largest increase— 54.3 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 October 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Davis, Legrome D. Penn, E 10 1 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 9 2 More
Smith, Walter Scott, Jr. Texas, W 8 3 More
Tilley, Norwood Carlton, Jr. N Car, M 7 4 More
Wooten, Terry L. S Car 6 5 More
Autrey, Henry Edward Mo, E 5 6 More
Cogburn, Max Oliver, Jr. N Car, W 5 6 More
Breen, J. Daniel Tenn, W 5 6 More
Means, Terry R. Texas, N 5 6 More
Klausner, Robert G. Cal, C 4 10 More
Reagan, Michael Joseph Ill, S 4 10 More
Hamilton, Jean Constance Mo, E 4 10 More
Gwin, James S. Ohio, N 4 10 More
Heaton, Joe L. Okla, W 4 10 More
Mattice, Harry Sandlin, Jr. Tenn, E 4 10 More
Alvarez, Micaela Texas, S 4 10 More
Crane, Randy Texas, S 4 10 More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 4 10 More
Benson, Dee Vance Utah 4 10 More
Randa, Rudolph Thomas Wisc, E 4 10 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 13 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 20 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Legrome D. Davis in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) ranked 1st with 10 convicted in weapons convictions.

  • Judge Alia Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 9 convicted in weapons convictions.

  • Judge Walter Scott Smith, Jr. in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 3rd with 8 convicted in weapons convictions.

Report Generated: February 6, 2013
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