Weapons Prosecutions for March 2024

Number Latest Month 658
Percent Change from previous month 0.2
Percent Change from 1 year ago -15.4
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-34.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-37.6
Table 1. Criminal Weapons Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during March 2024 the government reported 658 new weapons prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 0.2 percent 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 Table 1).

When monthly 2024 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-15.4%). 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 34 percent from levels reported in 2019.


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

  • Armed Career Criminal Act

  • Firearms/Triggerlock

  • Other Operation Triggerlock Prosecutions

The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in March 2024 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of prosecutions. See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for weapons prosecutions in March 2024 was ATF accounting for 56 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons referrals were: FBI (17% ), Local (12%), DHS (9%), USMarsh (1%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency

Weapons Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In March 2024, 126 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 March the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 involving "Firearms; Unlawful acts". This was the lead charge for 73.8 percent of all magistrate filings in March.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States" (12.7%).

Weapons Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In March 2024, 532 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during March there were an additional 131 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 March.

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 March 2024.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 560 1 1 1 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 18 3 5 2 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 12 4 3 5 More
18 USC 924 - Firearms; Penalties 10 5 7 3 More
26 USC 5861 - Tax on Making Firearms - Prohibited acts 10 5 6 7 More
18 USC 554 - Smuggling goods from the United States 8 7 4 8 More
18 USC 2119 - Carjacking 7 8 8 9 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 3 9 10 10 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 3 9 9 6 More
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 "Other US Code Section" under Title U.S.C Section. "Other US Code Section" under Title U.S.C Section was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 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 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions — up 105.3 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 371 that involves " Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 27.3 percent — was registered for prosecutions 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 prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 35.5 percent — was " Carjacking " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2119 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 75.3 percent — was for filings where the lead charge was " Attempt and conspiracy " (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In March 2024 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 238.7 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.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
D. C. 2,143 12 1 44 32 More
S Dakota 1,607 12 2 26 55 More
Mo, E 1,483 36 3 1 1 More
Okla, E 1,461 9 4 84 69 More
Iowa, N 1,172 13 5 34 23 More
W Virg, N 779 6 6 64 64 More
Ala, N 755 19 7 28 13 More
Montana 748 7 8 32 54 More
N Car, E 719 25 9 14 8 More
Ala, S 695 5 10 40 38 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) — with 2143 prosecutions as compared with 238.7 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during March 2024.

  • The District of South Dakota ranked 2nd.

  • Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) is now ranking 3rd. The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh), now ranked 9th , and South Dakota at 2nd In the same order, these districts ranked 14th and 26th one year ago and 8th and 55th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of weapons prosecutions compared to one year ago — 136.4 percent — was Eastern District of Oklahoma (Muskogee). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 78.6 percent — was Montana .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of weapons prosecutions — 33.3 percent — was South Dakota .  But over the past five years, Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) showed the largest drop — 46.3 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 March 2024 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Marrero, Victor N. Y., S 15 1 More
Counts, Walter David, III Texas, W 10 2 More
Boyle, Terrence William N Car, E 8 3 More
Axon, Annemarie Carney Ala, N 7 4 More
Autrey, Henry Edward Mo, E 7 4 More
Sachs, Howard Frederic Mo, W 7 4 More
Moses, Alia M. Texas, W 7 4 More
Barber, Thomas Patrick Fla, M 6 8 More
Coogler, L. Scott Ala, N 5 9 More
Brnovich, Susan Marie Arizona 5 9 More
Ross, John Andrew Mo, E 5 9 More
Bell, Kenneth Davis, Sr. N Car, W 5 9 More
Carr, James G. Ohio, N 5 9 More
Biery, Samuel Frederick, Jr. Texas, W 5 9 More
Cardone, Kathleen Texas, W 5 9 More
Table 4. Top Ten 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 filings per capita, while the remaining 10 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 15 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Victor Marrero in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan) ranked 1st with 15 defendants in weapons cases.

  • Judge Walter David Counts, III in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 10 defendants in weapons cases.

  • Judge Terrence William Boyle in the Eastern District of North Carolina (Raleigh) ranked 3rd with 8 defendants in weapons cases.

Report Generated: May 10, 2024
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