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The Washington Post
August 6, 2019

Trump’s claim about prosecuting ‘a record number of firearms offenses’
By Glenn Kessler

The president’s claim of a record number of firearms prosecutions comes from a Justice Department news release issued in the fall, a couple of weeks before then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to resign. In fiscal 2018, “the Justice Department charged more than 15,300 defendants with federal firearms offenses, which is 17 percent more than the previous record,” the release claimed. But those numbers do not track with research by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. TRAC, which relies on department data from Freedom of Information Act requests and is considered an authoritative source, says the number of federal weapons prosecutions in fiscal 2018 was 10,058. That would place 2018 in fourth place, with 2004 — which had 11,015 — in first place. However, so far in fiscal 2019, the administration is on pace to set a record. TRAC in June projected that current trends would bring the year’s final number to 11,187. Susan Long, TRAC’s co-director, said the Justice Department was counting cases in which weapons prosecutions were not one of the main charges (and in fact may have been dropped during plea negotiations). By contrast, TRAC counts only cases in which weapons violations were the primary purpose of the prosecution.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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