More Gun Prosecutions Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions: Is That Good or Bad?

On March 8th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all 94 federal prosecutors to prioritize violent crime, using the statutory tools at their disposal. The first two offenses listed by the Attorney General were 18 U.S.C section 922 (firearms offenses including possession and straw purchasing) and 18 U.S.C. section 924(c) (possession of a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime or drug trafficking offense).

The United States Attorney’s offices were urged to identify and target the criminals responsible for violent crime in their districts, and to coordinate their efforts with their state and local counterparts.

The effort appears to be having some results. As of the second quarter of 2017, gun prosecutions are up.

From justice.gov:

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that, following the memorandum from Attorney General Sessions to prioritize firearm prosecutions, the number of defendants charged with unlawful possession of a firearm increased nearly 23 percent in the second quarter of 2017 (2,637) from the same time period in 2016 (2,149).

This is an essential part of the strategy  in Project Exile and similar programs. The initiatives have had some success in high crime urban areas. The second part of the strategy is building the trust of residents of high crime areas.

The Trump campaign lauded Project Exile promising to expand the program. The March order from AG Sessions was a step in that direction.

A key part of Project Exile and of AG Sessions’ order is to concentrate enforcement efforts on violent offenders. As Harvard academic David Kennedy has noted, only a tiny number of people commit most murders and people in high crime neighborhoods know who these dangerous, violent people are. The approach that Kennedy has promoted is the second half of Project Exile. Convincing the people in these communities that you’re acting to remove those that make their neighborhoods unsafe, in the hope that they will cooperate with law enforcement.

The Obama administration fraudulently implied that racist police officers were at fault in high profile situations like the Ferguson, Missouri and Trayvon Martin cases. They actually promoted measures that reduced police presence in high crime areas.

The cumulative effect of administration policies and the situation on the ground in these areas led to what was called the Ferguson Effect. When police are concerned about about being persecuted or even prosecuted for doing their job, they will do less. The result is less respect for police officers and more violent crime.

The Obama Administration has done a great deal to de-legitimize the police in black neighborhoods. The damage done by the Ferguson Effect will have to be reversed over time in order to bring violent crime and murder rates in those areas.

Eight years of attacks by the Obama administration and the establishment media will take time to overcome. Trust in the police and the criminal justice system is easily lost, and difficult to rebuild.

Targeting violent offenders in high crime areas can be effective. To do so, the police have to follow the rules. And gathering minute statistics on racial quotas that the Obama administration required did nothing to build trust. That’s accomplished by engaging community members, explaining what the police are doing, how they’re doing it and backing up those words with concrete actions.

Mere arrests under federal gun laws aren’t sufficient. If arrests are made simply to drive up statistics, the approach is doomed to fail. The arrests have to be targeted against known violent offenders and gang members, resulting in tangible improvements in problem communities. It will be months, if not years before we know if the Trump administrations’ approach is having a positive effect. Stay tuned.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch

comments

  1. avatar Dcj says:

    There is nothing good about Sessions reign, unless one wants to go back in time to a darker age.

    1. avatar BrightBoy says:

      Wow, so a well thought out and logical response… You must be a Democrat…

    2. avatar Jim says:

      Nailed it. Sessions is a moron and a throwback to uglier times in the US.

      1. avatar Hank says:

        So you’d rather have Lynch or Holder instead? Ready to kick down your door and take your guns? (Probably shoot you and your dog while they’re at it). That’s the real difference. Sessions will be “tough on crime” in the areas it needs to be. The liberal AG’s will be “tough on anything not liberal” everywhere there isn’t crime. Those who whish to destroy, will be given room to destroy. In the meantime, we’ll also confiscate guns from the innocent.

      2. avatar Guardiano says:

        Please explain.

  2. avatar JDH says:

    They need to use this in Chicago. If they do no doubt they’ll find some liberal Federal Judge to legislate from the bench to ban it.

  3. avatar rt66paul says:

    Even people doing illegal things have a right to self protection. A gun found in a home of a drug dealer, that was not being used and on hand at the time of the arrest should not be an offense, unless he was a convicted felon. Sadly, I think this law will be misused over and over, and will just make many people on the edge second class citizens, not able to have a firearm in thier home for protection. Sadly, these are the people that need them the most.

    Many people sell drugs and are not violent, so a gun in the house should not be used to prove he is violent.

    1. avatar BrightBoy says:

      I see nothing in the statutes listed or the article in general that supports your assertion that poor old pot dealers will be targeted as violent offenders. The intended targets are people that hold firearms illegally (your e.g. felons) or people that use firearms in the commission of a violent crime.

      Bad actors with guns make the rest of us look bad.

      I say have at it Jeff Sessions…

      1. avatar Idaho Bob says:

        Sessions has a boner for weed. He’s frequently compared it to heroin. He asked congress to allow federal prosecution of the state legal shops. I live on the Washington border. I know a few people making a living off recreational marijuana. They are not gangsters, they pax taxes, and raise their families. These people WILL get caught up in Sessions drug crusade. That assclown will target them just to pad his stats, while the cartels will continue business as usual.

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          There’s still a federal ban against recreational marijuana.

          So, if I’m not mistaken, what you just said was: “My friends are so good at breaking the law for money that they feed and raise their kids on the proceeds, and I’m pissed that they might run afoul of the DOJ enforcing the law.”

          Are you more pissed off that he might lose his livelihood or that you might lose your dealer?

        2. avatar Ollie says:

          Weedheads who lie on their Form 4473 risk felony perjury charges if for some reason the Feds decide to get rough with them for other illegal acts.
          If you checked “No” under Question 11e on the 4473, you had better get clean and stay off the dope.

        3. avatar Red in CO says:

          Joe R

          Ah yes, of course. The law is the law, and is inherently just, simply by virtue of being the law. As such, YOU MUST OBEY. Do you currently own a rifle or shotgun, and a hacksaw? Boom. Felony constructive intent, because you could use those to create an unregistered SBR (yes, constructive intent laws exist, and taken to their extreme, that could be grounds for such a charge). As a single example. If you own or carry guns at all (you’re reading TTaG, so I assume you do), I can almost guarantee you’ve committed some kind of gun-related felony, either knowingly or not. Be careful what you advocate for, my friend

        4. avatar Mike Betts says:

          Red – You mean to tell me that all I need are the tools to commit a crime and it’s “constructive felony intent”? Should I turn myself in on a rape charge or wait until they come and get me?

        5. avatar Idaho Bob says:

          Weedheads?…is it 1965? The 4473 says nothng about cultivating, processing, or selling cannabis. Washington state citizens voted for legalization and they are exercising it. Where’s the states’ rights cheerleaders?

          The people I mentioned above work in stores and warehouses 40-50 hours per week. If I choose to consume cannabis, I can walk into a store, pick from 100’s of strains, put down my money, and walk out. They openly advertise on radio, newspapers, and internet. https://potguide.com/washington/marijuana-stores/spokane/

          They are not hiding in alleys selling to school kids. Whether you agree or not, it is a legitimate industry feeding the economy. And less dangerous than the only federally legal recreational drug.

          BTW – Sessions was denied funding by congress to prosecute state sanctioned cannabis stores.

      2. avatar Adam says:

        If you think these laws won’t be used to further crack down on poor nonviolent offenders (Victim-less crime) than you are living in a fantasy world.

        Sessions has already clearly stated and shown that his ideal of police reform is based in the 1970s. He wants a huge Drug War budget and he wants to jail as many non violent criminals as possible. This gun stuff is just lip service to help him push through more laws which will help him jail more poor people for victim-less crimes.

  4. avatar Ralph says:

    Criminals have guns, but that doesn’t mean that they’re our friends. I feel no kinship toward them. In fact, I hate their guts.

    Violent criminals deserve all the punishment it’s possible to dole out under law. Good for Sessions, and good for us.

  5. avatar Sam I Am says:

    “Mere arrests under federal gun laws aren’t sufficient.”

    Agree. We have seen arrests evaporate in plea deals. Trials will be the metric (conviction as a result of trial is subject to too much variation).

    1. avatar California Richard says:

      Comes down to the money. It costs something like $2million to federally prosecute, try, and convict someone, so they have to really have a boner to go after you. Which, I’m not against in this case. I want my money going toward violent turds getting put away for 20+ years. The alternative is the whole concept of “punishment by process” for descent folks and plea deals for scum bags, which sucks all around.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        Ya, all the promise of a drop in crime, where marijuana is legalized, hasn’t happened. What has happened is that crime and worthlessness has spiked in the areas that have attempted to circumvent federal law by ‘legalizing’ pot.

        We haven’t even dipped our toe into the legalization of pot, and I firmly believe the impact on our upcoming generations is huge. Which is another reason why I believe that the impetus to legalize drugs, of any kind, comes from our enemies in other places in the world.

      2. avatar Sam I Am says:

        “It costs something like $2million to federally prosecute, try, and convict someone”

        Presuming your cost is calculated correctly…..all the more reason to repeal most federal law. Too costly for the outcome. When laws are so expensive to enforce, law becomes ludicrous. The test should be whether or not the entire cost of trial returns a greater monetary benefit than the cost. Reserving arrest and trial only for the most horrific of crime means fewer federal employees (taxes will not go down as the revenue would be squandered somewhere else).

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          Yeah. Like with murder. If the trial and incarceration ’til execution doesn’t return the value of the life of the dead victim, then we shouldn’t prosecute the murderer for the murder.

          /sarc

        2. avatar Sam I Am says:

          You have a point here.

          The threshold for trial should be either a better return on investment, OR, a heinous crime. For the latter, investment should not be a consideration.

  6. avatar Mike Betts says:

    The POTG fall into one of two camps – the law-breakers and the law-abiders. The law-breakers do what they damned well please regardless of any and all laws passed to moderate their conduct and keep firearms out of their hands, and the law-abiders accept, though sometimes grudgingly, those laws which wouldn’t exist were it not for the depredations of the law-breakers. The law-breakers rob, rape, and sell poison to our children. The law-abiders carry firearms where the law allows them to protect themselves from the predators in our midst and chafe under unconstitutional laws in the places where they are not permitted to do so.

    We know which kind of POTG we are and how much the other kind has damaged our God-given rights due to the well-meaning but actually harmful actions of our various legislatures in trying to deal with them. If Jeff Sessions wants the book thrown at them, good. Put them in prison and KEEP them there so that the decent people can live their lives unmolested.

    1. avatar Andrew Lias says:

      That’s a good point, I think that there is solid conflation of criminal offenders and the victim which seems to happen far too often in liberal circles. All too often the real victim is ignored for the sake of “the community.” Which community would that be? The gang they came from? I certainly doubt it’s for the sake of the communities full of people that they hurt who are trying to get by.

      That said, if it is people who are hurting other people then it should be very aggressively prosecuted with tools that are available. Cessation of the revolving door justice system when it comes to people with a tract record of violenc is IMO a good thing.

      Should felons be able to get their right to gun ownership back? Absolutely. It shouldn’t be immediate though and should come with time and an established pattern of being a good member of society who isn’t going out and hurting others.

    2. avatar Joe R. says:

      “The POTG fall into one of two camps – the law-breakers and the law-abiders”.

      No, or else we got “anything goes”.

      The POTG fall into one camp – the law-abiders. The other way sounds like you could swap “Tire Iron” or “Straight Razor” for “Gun”. Bad actors cannot be counted on for anything other than a proclivity for bad actions. Just because a bad actor uses a gun, doesn’t lend itself to any coalition or coalescence with “Society” that their actions work directly against. Whatever support of the 2nd Amendment, or other gun-owners, they only get to be People of Themselves.

    3. avatar strych9 says:

      The camps are actually “the criminally minded” and the “not predisposed to obviously illicit and immoral behavior”.

      We’re all criminals and probably all felons if you dig deep enough. There are so many federal laws and regulations (which act like laws for the purposes of this discussion) that it’s a good bet everyone here has committed a felony in their lifetime.

      Hell, the CBO can’t even tell you how many laws or how many regulations there even are so you basically can’t even know if you’ve broken a law or not followed a regulation since the government itself doesn’t know how many there are, nevermind WHAT they are.

      [Edit] In fact, when I think about it, I can declare with no fear of error that every one of us is a federal felon. We are all in possession of one of the most controlled drugs on the planet right this second.

      1. avatar eremeya says:

        What drug are you referring to?

        1. avatar strych9 says:

          DMT. N-Dimethyltryptamine.

          It’s what makes mammals (and other animals) dream.

  7. avatar anarchyst says:

    Session’s position on asset forfeiture is troublesome. Far too many police departments rely on this “legalized robbery under color of law” to fund their departments. Asset forfeiture is just plaun WRONG and unconstitutional…

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “Asset forfeiture is just plaun WRONG and unconstitutional…”

      Not according to the SC: http://www.businessinsider.com/supreme-court-ruling-on-civil-forfeiture-2014-11. Settled law.

      1. avatar anarchyst says:

        the “supreme court is wrong on asset forfeiture, the evisceration of the 4th amendment with its “drug exception” ruling and other opinions such as “dred scott” Just because the supreme court rules doesn’t make them right. The supreme court renders OPINIONS, nothing else. It is up to the congress to decide whether to follow supreme court decisions and to determine whether they are valid. In fact, congress can bar the supreme court from ruling on any topic it chooses.
        Regards,

        1. avatar Sam I Am says:

          “The supreme court renders OPINIONS, nothing else. It is up to the congress to decide whether supreme court decisions are valid.”

          The SC issues statements that become law. The fact that Congress sees fit to never overturn the SC, an opinion by SC becomes law, de facto. To overturn both the SC and Congress requires a different approach to government.

  8. avatar John in TX (Was CT) says:

    Yes and no. I really don’t like that “OMG GUN!” is used as a sentencing-enhancing feature when the crime is not, in fact, that someone was in possession of a weapon, but rather that he either threatened someone or stole from them (or hurt them or killed them or whatever).

    Increase sentences for theft, robbery, murder, assault, etc if you want, but unless the pistol was more than a circumstantial thing (ie. drug dealer points the gun at someone, doesn’t just have it in his possession while selling weed), leave it out of the sentencing formula.

    It’s also often used to pressure people into plea-bargains (‘If you plead, we’ll drop the gun charge, but you’re facing a federal felony if you take this to trial’) which can deny people due process on questionable cases, as well.

  9. avatar barnbwt says:

    Frankly, absent any other progress in our favor, increased enforcement is a step back. Yes, enforcement can increase respect for the rule of law, but the laws being enforced have to be respectable. They are not at this time, and there are no known efforts by the Trump crew to assist in this regard.

    No, undoing a theoretical lead ban decades from now doesn’t count. No, undoing the fiduciary rules to restore the purchase rights of like a dozen old geezers (at least one of whom is probably a senator or something) doesn’t count. No, attending the NRA convention doesn’t count.

    **ANYTHING** in this list would count, and could be accomplished via a single EO one morning before toast:
    -Import bans (AP ammunition, Russian, Chinese, etc products)
    -Sporting purposes clause (AP ammo, 922r, ‘assault shotguns,’ ally-nation imports)
    -ATF reform (a whole separate list of stuff, but that Turk white paper is a good start)
    -Encouraging HPA/SHUSH/HUSH Act consideration (or whatever name it’s been given so it can fade into obscurity)
    -Encouraging universal reciprocity for carry permits (call it a compromise with federal unlicensed carry)
    -Encouraging federal preemption of state gun restrictions (AWB’s, licensing/registration, UBC’s, NFA, etc)

  10. avatar TommyJay says:

    Hundreds of people die in Chicago each year because violent felons who are re-caught on weapons charges are released, by state or local prosecutors, with a slap on the wrist. By all means, throw the federal book at those folks.

    A time-served felon who can demonstrate to a local judge that he/she is an upstanding member of society and not a recidivist, should get their gun rights back; and not until then.

  11. avatar Wade says:

    Jeff Sessions is a scourge on the nation. He supports the war on drugs and private prisons. He literally gets paid to help maintain and grow the prison planet we are becoming. Jeff Sessions sucks really bad. He won’t really go after Hillary but he sure will throw you in jail over a bag of weed.

    Grown up don’t need this crusty piece of sh!t making moral decisions for him.

  12. avatar RD Smith says:

    Between Sessions’ take on non-conviction civil asset forfeiture, and his continued prosecution of the Bundy event, for a tense, but ultimately peaceful protest, he’s a POS as far as I’m concerned. If he was on fire, I wouldn’t piss on him to put it out.

  13. avatar Larry Cowden says:

    Sessions is a win for law enforcement! This Nation has seen too much of the Obama, Holder and Lynch styles of non enforcement of the Nation’s laws. Time and time again I have seen failures of the judicial system in New Dorkistan where violent criminals are either pleaded out to lesser sentences, charges tossed altogether, or the race card played with violent illegal immigrants that were turned loose. Many of them REPEAT offenders. I damn well hope his direction to focus on those crimes and criminals ends that cycle of repeat violent offenders that are released to kill and kill again. As for marijuana, no sympathy from me. If it’s illegal, IT’s AGAINST THE LAW! Despite legalization in many states for many purposes from medical to recreational, the Federal government has yet to give the green light on that. In New Dorkistan, it’s now legal. But would I take it for MS or PTSD? Not a fucking chance! Those condeming Sessions because of his tough stance are probably the same ones with no respect for the law to begin with as is the case with liberals and dumbassocrats Nation wide!

    1. avatar anarchyst says:

      Here is what “respect for the law” can get you…this is a relatively common occurrence in certain areas:
      When YOU take money out of your bank account to purchase a car, are stopped by “law enforcement” for a minor traffic infraction, your car is searched, despite your Constitutional right to refuse a search, and your cash is taken from you because it “could” be “drug money”, what will you do? Go ahead and stand behind your “respect for the law”?…
      Sessions is a proponent for increased use of “asset forfeiture”, the Constitution be damned.
      You assertion that if you are not “breaking the law” you have nothing to worry about is false. When it happens to someone else, you stand behind your “respect for the law”. What if it happens to YOU?

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