Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Weapons Convictions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during November 2018 the government reported 633 new weapons convictions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 0.8 percent 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 2018 convictions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of convictions was up (12.8%).
Convictions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are up 33.2 percent from levels reported in 2013.
Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Weapons Convictions
The increase 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
Other Operation Triggerlock Prosecutions
The largest number of convictions of these matters in November 2018 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for 100 percent of convictions. See Figure 2.
The lead investigative agency for weapons convictions in November 2018
was ATF accounting for 67 percent of convictions.
Other agencies with substantial numbers of weapons convictions were:
FBI (12% ), Local (10%), DHS (3%).
See Figure 3.
Figure 2. Specific Types of Convictions
Figure 3. Convictions by Investigative Agency
Weapons Convictions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In November 2018, 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 November 2018, 633 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during November 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 November.
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 November 2018.
"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 "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841.
"Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 841 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 325 percent — compared to one year ago was Title U.S.C Section
that involves "Other US Code Section ".
This was the same statute that had the largest increase — 5000 % — when compared with five years ago.
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in convictions compared to one year ago — down 200 percent — was
" " ( ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in convictions — 25 percent — was
for convictions where the lead charge was " Control of arms exports and imports " (Title 22 U.S.C Section 2778 ).
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
In November 2018 the Justice Department said the government obtained 233.2 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.
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)
The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) — with 1967 convictions as compared with 233.2 convictions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during November 2018.
The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 10 for most frequent use five years ago.
The District of Montana ranked 2nd.
Western District of Tennessee (Memphis) is now ranking 3rd.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Western District of Tennessee (Memphis), now ranked
, and Southern District of Alabama (Mobile)
In the same order, these districts ranked 11th and 23rd one year ago and 11th and 26th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in the rate of weapons convictions compared to one year ago — 211.1 percent — was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 510 percent — was
Southern District of Mississippi (Jackson).
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in the rate of weapons convictions — 15.4 percent — was
But over the past five years,
Washington, D.C. (Washington)
showed the largest drop — 27.8 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 November 2018 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 6 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. (Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Linda R. Reade in the Northern District of Iowa (Cedar Rapids) ranked 1st with 12 convicted in weapons convictions.
Judge Ronnie Lee White in the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) ranked 2nd with 10 convicted in weapons convictions.
Judge John Andrew Ross in the Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) ranked 3rd with 9 convicted in weapons convictions.