Weapons Convictions for September 2013

Number Latest Month 685
Percent Change from previous month 34.1
Percent Change from 1 year ago -5.9
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) -22.1
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) -22.2
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Convictions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during September 2013 the government reported 685 new weapons convictions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 34.1% 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 down (-5.9 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 22.1 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 September 2013 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of convictions. See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for weapons convictions in September 2013 was ATF accounting for 75 percent of convictions. Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons convictions were: FBI (9% ), 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 September 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 September 2013, 684 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during September 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 September.

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 September 2013.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 581 1 1 1 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 40 2 2 2 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 15 3 3 4 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 11 4 5 5 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 8 5 4 3 More
18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States 6 6 7 30 More
18 USC 842 - Explosives - Importation, manufacture, etc 3 7 14 9 More
18 USC 2119 - Carjacking 3 7 10 9 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 3 7 6 6 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 2 10 8 7 More
18 USC 1591 - Sex trafficking of children by force, fraud or coercion 2 10 29 - More
26 USC 5841 - Registration of firearms 2 10 14 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 240 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—2700 percent—was registered for convictions under " Smuggling goods from the United States " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 554 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down 40 percent—was Registration of firearms (Title 26 U.S.C Section 5841 ). This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 62.5 %—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In September 2013 the Justice Department said the government obtained 267.4 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  
N Car, M 1,424 33 1 10 36 More
Wyoming 1,323 6 2 57 55 More
Ala, S 1,309 9 3 18 45 More
Tenn, E 1,098 23 4 9 28 More
N Car, E 1,083 33 5 3 2 More
Ala, N 994 23 6 17 13 More
Montana 985 8 7 52 40 More
Ind, N 847 18 8 31 33 More
W Virg, S 779 6 9 65 77 More
Ill, S 754 8 10 37 60 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro)—with 1424 convictions as compared with 267.4 convictions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during September 2013. The Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) was ranked 10 a year ago.

  • The District of Wyoming ranked 2nd.

  • Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Northern District of Alabama (Birmingham), now ranked 6th , and Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) at 3rd In the same order, these districts ranked 17th and 18th one year ago and 13th and 45th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of weapons convictions compared to one year ago— 38.8 percent—was Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro). This was the same district that had the largest increase— 164.3 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— 34.4 percent—was Southern District of Alabama (Mobile).  But over the past five years, Montana showed the largest drop— 41.7 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 September 2013 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Boyle, Terrence William N Car, E 18 1 More
Osteen, William Lindsay, Jr. N Car, M 11 2 More
Eagles, Catherine Caldwell N Car, M 8 3 More
Crone, Marcia A. Texas, E 8 3 More
DuBose, Kristi K. Ala, S 7 5 More
Blackburn, Robert E. Colorado 6 6 More
Fenner, Gary A. Mo, W 6 6 More
Schroeder, Thomas D. N Car, M 6 6 More
Lisi, Mary M. R. I. 6 6 More
Harwell, Robert Bryan S Car 6 6 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 5 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 5 judges were from other districts.

  • Judge Terrence William Boyle in the Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh) ranked 1st with 18 convicted in weapons convictions.

  • Judge William Lindsay Osteen, Jr. in the Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) ranked 2nd with 11 convicted in weapons convictions.

  • Judges Catherine Caldwell Eagles in the Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro) and Marcia A. Crone in the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) ranked 3rd with 8 convicted in weapons convictions.

Report Generated: November 25, 2013
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