courtesy time.com and Getty

According to the New York Times, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying a new tack by prosecuting low-level gun crimes. Sound familiar? It should. Gun owners have been saying for years that if the laws currently on the books were enforced, we’d see fewer overall crime and there would be no need for more gun control laws.

Mr. Sessions’s approach has touched off a debate about whether he is making the country safer from violent crime, as he and President Trump have repeatedly vowed to do, or devoting resources to low-level prosecutions that could instead be put toward pursuing bigger targets like gun suppliers.

Think of it as another version of Rudy Giuliani’s “broken windows” approach that curbed New York’s crime problem and made the city more livable in the 1990s.

Cops are apparently a fan of the strategy.

Local police, who have for years sought more muscle from federal law enforcement, welcomed Mr. Sessions’s more aggressive approach.

“We have been trying to send a message,” said J. Thomas Manger, president of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents police departments across the country. “The bad guys have a real fear of federal prosecutions versus state prosecutions.”

That’s because local prosecutions can be, let’s say, spotty. Cities like Chicago are notorious for their revolving door criminal justice system, issuing wrist-slaps to habitual felons who, strangely enough, go on to commit more crimes as soon as their sprung.

But the feds, when pointed in the right direction, put their targets away for longer stretches.

Penalties for federal gun convictions are steep. On average, firearms defendants spend six years in federal prison. If they are convicted under the two statutes requiring mandatory minimum sentences, that average jumps to 11 years.

In the three months following a directive from Mr. Sessions last year to pursue gun crimes, possession cases — a relatively routine charge — rose nearly a quarter. That was part of a 15 percent increase in all federal gun prosecutions in the first nine months of 2017.

Of course, “experts,” many of whom favor more more gun control laws cast doubt on the effectiveness of the effort.

“Enforcement isn’t always the solution to those different types of crimes,” said Inimai Chettier, director of the justice program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The result might be to increase the federal prison population without a correlating reduction in crime.”

Then again, those felons in federal prison won’t be on the streets committing more crimes, many involving firearms.

People convicted of firearms-related crimes make up more than 17 percent of the federal prison population, the second-biggest group after drug offenses, Justice Department data showed. Ninety-six percent of defendants convicted of a federal firearms offense in 2017 were sentenced to prison.

 

 

74 COMMENTS

  1. To be truthful, we’ve been saying that if low-level laws on the books were enforced & equitably, they’d be so onerous that repeal would soon follow.

    Not that we’re cool with the status quo, though you’d be hard pressed to hear that from the NRA

  2. ridiculous concept. only a maroon would think you can stop crime by locking up criminals. /sarcasm

    • So you would be for locking up people who break “low-level” gun laws? Like:
      – prison time for someone who puts a folding stock on an imported semi-auto rifle imported after March 1989?
      – prison time for someone that brings a 12-round magazine into NY state? (The federal government assists in state prosecutions many times )
      – prison time for someone who got a non-violent felony like mail fraud 40 years ago and is caught with a .22 rifle?
      – prison time for possession of a bump stock?
      – prison time for “constructive possession” of an unregistered SBR for having an extra pistol upper for an AR pistol which is at the same address as an AR-15 rifle?

      Before Mr. Zimmerman and many readers here jump on the “enforce the laws we have” bandwagon they all need to remember all the unconstitutional laws we have that also affect gun owners.

        • BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY WILL BE DOING. They will enforce EVERY unConstitutional federal gun law. Do you really think that “bump stock ban” Sessions is going to tell prosecutors “Just go after the gang bangers and leave the gun collectors alone.”?

          Funny how some pro-gunners only hear what they want to hear.

      • The Feds can’t enforce state laws, only federal. Yes, they assist in prosecuting people arrested for breaking state laws, but only if a federal statue was violated, such as felon/prohibited possessor, or straw purchase.

        Lets say a law abiding 21 year old college student from Vermont decides to take his gat with him on spring break to Florida or Texas and conceal carries it, and gets caught, say printing or inadvertent display. He’s broken no federal law, only state law, so the feds can’t touch him.

        Lastly, just because they’re going after “low level” crimes doesn’t mean that they still won’t have prosecutorial discretion. I suspect Chicago, Baltimore and St Louis will keep them plenty busy prosecuting real criminals.

        • Ever hear of Project Exhile? The NRA’s darling? It’s law in Virginia and all gun “crimes” must be forwarded to ATF to see if any federal laws were also broken. ATF also assists local prosecutors with understanding their own state laws and how to hang gun owners.

        • I’m quite familiar with Project Exile. It was used specifically to target felons in possession, and reduce Richmond VA’s horrendous homicide rate of 80 per 100,000. It was very effective, and was only discontinued because the Va Chapter of the NAACP put pressure on. Something about “too many young black men behind bars”.

          Once again, they were targeting people who were prohibited possessors. From the linked article:
          ” Firearm homicides in Richmond exhibited a 22 percent yearly decline, compared with the average reduction of about 10 percent per year for other large U.S. cities. The difference is statistically significant.”

          https://www.crimesolutions.gov/ProgramDetails.aspx?ID=413

        • All very true. In the SF Bay Area its called trigger lock. From what I’ve seen, the vast majority of people who are “trigger locked” are carreer crminals, violent crminals, and validated gang bangers, all of which lands them 20 years federal time with mandatory 80% time behind bars. Every so often somebody who doesn’t know the laws will blunder in to their sights and have their guns taken or you’ll get a jackass enforcer/US Prosecutor who wants to make a name for themselves by making an example of some poor dude.

          We passed the point of law oversaturation decades ago. Every one of us already commits 3 felonies a day and numerous misdemeanors whether we know it or not. We’ve been at the mercy of the law our entire lives and depend on the ignorance and/or good graces of the enforcers and prosecutors. It’s not the way things SHOULD BE, but it is the way things ARE.

        • You college student crossed state lines in order to break the law. Feds are involved if they want to be.

        • Wrong Again…

          My hypothetical student followed all the rules of properly transporting his property from origin to destination.

          Scenario 1:
          He took a commercial airline flight, and stowed his unloaded firearm in his checked baggage, and declared it to the airline and TSA. No crime committed.

          Scenario 2:
          He and his buddies took a road trip, and properly stowed his unloaded firearm in the luggage compartment of the vehicle. Remember the McClure/Volkmer Act (Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986)? You know that law that did nothing but outlaw machine guns? Safe passage provision? No federal law broken there either..

          Jeeze…..

      • Yeah, Agreed…It’s easier to go after Joe Public than fight real crime…Accidental scawflaws Vs hardcore MS -13…Let’s see…Whiny Police Commandos, and STASI want-to-be tyrants will choose to target poor Joe Shmo/Jane Doe…Than face real villains like those mentioned because of the “we want to go home at the end of our shift” mentality that is fostered by police unions that could careless about a US citizens constitutional rights…Instead of going after the real violent offenders…My dad always expressed concern when it came to giving up civil rights as options to allow police have an easier job…And to pick and choose THEIR criteria, and objectives…

  3. Federal prisons are run better than state-owned, inmate-dominated crime schools, and there is no parole in the Federal system for crimes committed after 1987.

    Federal convicts with sentences of more than a year but less than life can earn 54 days a year off their sentences for good behavior. Otherwise, Federal cons can rot in the joint, because they can’t sweet-talk their way into parole.

  4. I’m a bit torn on this one. While I do support punishing legitimate criminal actions, but I also still believe that the Feds and ATF have way too much power as is. And ultimately Trump’s Presidency will eventually end either in 4 to 8 years. But established precedent can last well beyond his term.

  5. While serving on a NJ county Grand Jury, every gun charge was not pursued. When we questioned the DA as to why not, the excuse was they were giving them to the Feds to prosecute. What a joke! The Feds couldn’t be bothered pursuing possession cases because they didn’t get them the headlines they want. Maybe Sessions can jump start getting some of these low-lifes off the streets and show the lack of need for new gun laws if the current ones are enforced.

  6. So liberal heads will explode when their favorite BLM members start going to federal prison for… gun crimes?

  7. Good news to me…they just arrested the gangbanger who shot the ATF agent(skulking around at 3am) in Chiraq. IF they did more than slap these miscreants on the wrist Chicago MIGHT get better. Not holding my breath. Their BS is trickling down to my neighborhood 10miles south😡

    • Hold the parents accountable for their children and don’t restrict non criminals from carrying or using a gun in defense of self, others and property.

      If some youth wants to commit a crime with a weapon they will get shot dead by the victim. There won’t be a need for a trial or money to keep him in a cage and a career criminal won’t be reoffending until he murders. Kids will realize that crime is too risky to commit, that it’s not worth doing when you live in America.

    • And you are armed and trained and unafraid. Call Chicago to send the criminals to you and you will cleanse society of their sickness and make the world a safer place. We will all thank you.

  8. If they simply put “felon with a gun” convicts in federal “pound you in the …” prison the deterrent would be “yuge”! Keeping them in state prisons is a scam by AGs to get easy conviction plea bargains to up their numbers.

      • Yes.

        Good and competent legal representation is expensive and they can’t afford that, so they plead out since the state will likely get a conviction.

        It sucks, but that’s reality…

  9. “Think of it as another version of Rudy Giuliani’s “broken windows” approach that curbed New York’s crime problem and made the city more livable in the 1990s.”

    What made NYC livable again wasn’t ‘Broken Windows’ policing so much as ‘Stop and Frisk’ that cut the city murder rate *way* down…

    • Stop and Frisk had only a modest effect on crime (if any), and even though Stop and Frisk incidents are waaaaay down, crime in NYC is also way down. NYC is probably the safest big city in the US, and it started with Rudy.

      I was born and raised in NYC from 1948 until 1984. Believe me, it was an open sewer then. It isn’t now, despite its current feckless mayor.

  10. To me minimum sentences seem unjust.

    I don’t support what is an anti gun strategy. This type of prosecute everyone and give them minimum sentences will put moral people in prison for a very long time because they didn’t know the laws in different places when they brought their gun with them. Also, people who choose to carry illegally because their corrupt sheriff and police chief refuse to give them a permission slip would get a severe punishment for exercising their right.

    I’m not into Sessions’ and Trump’s anti Bill of Rights strategy. People should be able to walk down the street without getting stalked and illegally searched, put in prison for many years for carrying a gun without permission and losing their right to own guns and vote for life.

    Obviously people who commit robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, etc, should be punished fairly and justly. I am not a fan of how Brazil or England punish murderers. Crimes have degrees, so should punishments.

    By the way, didn’t New York get safer because it got more expensive to live there? Thus the type of people who commit violent crimes were pushed out to somewhere else.

    • I think you’re confusing federal crimes vs. state/local crimes. There is no federal crime of ‘carry illegally’. The federal prosecutors won’t be going after someone who were carrying without a state/local permit. The feds will be charging people who couldn’t posses a gun at all (felons) or people who used a gun during another crime.

    • CZ- Do the Feds put people into Federal prison for breaking State laws and Local ordinances? I do not believe so. People can also vote with their feet; leave those corrupt areas and move to free-er places.

    • “This type of prosecute everyone and give them minimum sentences will put moral people in prison for a very long time because they didn’t know the laws in different places when they brought their gun with them.”

      The Leftists will consider that a feature and not a bug.

      For them, discouraging the good and moral from being armed in their little hell-hole ‘locale’ will make them feel ‘safer’…

    • The federal government can only prosecute violations of federal law. It has no authority to prosecute violations of state laws or municipal ordinances. That’s up to state and local prosecutors. Therefore, a US attorney isn’t going to prosecute someone for carrying a concealed weapon on a public street without a state permit unless he or she is a prohibited person under federal law (i.e. felon, mentally ill, addict, etc.) Sessions has, at long last, directed US attorneys to begin prosecuting violent criminals whose previous convictions make them prohibited persons. This won’t go over well with state and local prosecutors who, for political reasons, go easy on such criminals.

      • What about the new laws that are being passed that make it very easy to become a “prohibited” person without due process?

        Remember what Trump said? No due process, take the guns first, universal background checks/registration, bump stocks illegal and age restrictions.

        Things may start out great, but end horribly.

  11. No more pleading armed robbery with 5-10 down to possession of stolen property and probation?
    What will Chicago do?

  12. “Enforcement isn’t always the solution to those different types of crimes,” said Inimai Chettier, director of the justice program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The result might be to increase the federal prison population without a correlating reduction in crime.”

    According to this ‘logic’ there’s no reason to create more gun laws either.

    • “The result might be to increase the federal prison population without a correlating reduction in crime.” So, to these guys, less guns equals less crime, but less criminals does not equal less crime. Got it!

      • That’s exactly right. That’s why they call it “gun crime”, not “criminal crime”. The definition reinforces that it’s the guns’ fault.

  13. This approach was tested in Va back in the Reagan days as a proof of concept. it WORKED in causing a huge reduction in criminal activity.

    Multi loser/violent felon that knows with a certainty he will go to prison for holding/using a firearm and he gets his head out of his ass/puts down the joint.

    • As I recall, that aggressive enforcement was eventually opposed and stopped by opposition from a number of groups including certain groups within Congress who thought that the prosecutions unfairly targeted certain demographics.

  14. “shall not be infringed” suggests that there should be no laws regarding “gun crime”. There are already laws against murder, assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, public endangerment, etc. Those are the laws that should be punished severely. The return of the chain gang gravel makers would reduce recidivism significantly. At what level of “tried and failed” does history finally say “banning THINGS does not prevent crime”?

    • How about forcing the family to pay for the imprisonment of their criminal family member? They either pay or they have to officially disown them.

      I think that would make families put in more effort at making sure their relatives become a success rather than support them through their constant failures. Being disowned would be a major negative as you will only have yourself to help you out throughout life.

      Right now unrelated people are paying for other people’s little criminal. Society shouldn’t have to be burdened with other people’s failures.

      • agree completely though sometimes family disowning you is not such a bad thing. i have had no family support for about 20 years and while not exactly prosperous i am fiercely independent and capable on my own. my partner is similar though she always had good family support. i narrowly avoided being homeless a couple times only because i was resourceful (never criminal though)

  15. I’m conflicted on this. This is definitely a double edged sword.

    Going after people in Chicago for violating gun laws that should be prosecuted, sure.

    Going after someone who sells one gun at a gun show for dealing without a license (as has happened in the past, look up some cases from the 70’s), or say FTB flips on sig braces and prosecutions happen, not so good.

  16. We need to annex a couple thousand square miles of Antarctica to use a a maximum security prison for the gangbangers from Chicago, New York and LA.

    Drop them in the middle and if they make it to the fence, they get moved to a slightly warmer prison.

  17. I can’t stand people who say ‘don’t enforce a law’. You either repeal it or enforce it.. optional enforcement leads to corruption!!!

    • There should be a restoration period where majority of laws are thrown out for being unnecessary and onerous.

      There are too many laws in America. There are far too many felonies.

      The government states that ignorance of the law is no excuse, yet they want you to learn millions of laws from 50 states and federal. Cops get a privilege of immunity as long as they work for the government, but they are still civilians who are required to know all the laws everyone else is when they don’t have a badge on. There is a law that a lawyer can get you arrested for right now, you don’t even know it, but it’s there for them to use whenever they feel like it.

      No one really calls for a cleansing the law like they do the tax code.

  18. I am for this if they’re prosecuting people who get brought in for other crimes, especially those who hurt others. Multi time losers with a violent history can go as well. Progtards who want laws passed to only hurt the law abiding and then leave the wolves at their doors need to have their hypocrisy exposed.

  19. The only problem I have with this is the creeping felony issue. There are folks who claim the average person unknowingly commits multiple felonies every day. While I suspect that is a stretch, have you ever cleaned out a ditch at the back of your property? There are federal prosecutors who would assist the EPA with putting you in prison for destroying a wetland. Did you put that AR upper on that rifle lower to check the fit and then realize that you had created an unregistered SBR? Felony city my friend, and it is a good thing you didn’t get caught before you realized your mistake and pinned that long flash hider in place!

    If they only go after violent felons, okay, but the feds are famous for going for any low hanging fruit. That way they don’t have to worry about MS-13 targeting them or their families. Did I just call them lazy cowards? Only a few of them, but how many miscarriages of justice are okay?

  20. What will ultimately happen is that people who get involved in self defense cases will get unjustified long term jail sentences just for defending their own lives and also let us not forget that the Moron Sessions goes after and incarcerates people just for having a bag of weed in their possession. He has even threatened legal pot growers and their legal users. This guy is only a half step behind Trump as one of the greatest Morons ever seated in a Governmental position. He is still living in the stone age and has learned nothing from the past especially Nixons “war on crime” that only filled the prisons with non violent offenders and cost the tax payer billions while accomplishing more to make sure these people had no choice but to pursue a life a more crime because they had been locked up for so long. Many had never even operated a computer when they went looking for a job after getting out of prison and some had gotten 20 years for minor crimes just because it was their 3rd offense. A complete waste of tax payer money when we do not even have enough tax dollars for the education of our children or for the repair of our roads and bridges or for Governmental health programs. The cost of hiring all those extra police and the long incarcerations wasted billions of tax payer dollars and accomplished zero in fighting the drug trade as today its bigger than it has ever been. Treating people addicted to drugs as criminals makes about as much sense as taking people out and shooting them that have cancer. The rest of the civilized world gave up on that moronic law years ago while the U.S. still operates right out of the dark ages.

    When you put people into treatment programs the drug dealers are not going to be able to sell drugs to people who are getting them for free in treatment programs as the Europeans have found out decades ago. This is not rocket science but when you have a bunch of right wing religious fanatics running the government nothing they do makes any sense.

    He is also an old fashioned Southern Racist that has went out of his way to try and incarcerate as many minorities as he possible can while ignoring white collar crime as if it did not exist. We simply could not have a worse Attorney General as he lives in a fantasy world and thinks he is still in the 1950’s were it was ok to lynch people without trial. He is one demented sicko.

    He also announced yesterday that when he arrests illegals he will separate children from parents which reminds one of the Nazi Commanders at the concentrations camps who when their victims debarked from the death trains stood there with a whip pointing to the left or right and separating families as to who would live and who would die. His sadistic SS Storm Troopers have already separated over 700 children from their parents its just that he only finally admitted what was going on yesterday.

    Why not be done with it and just issue Nazi Swastika Arm Bans and admit to what they are, Immigrant, Refugee, racist, hateful, Nazi’s, that are only one step away from building gas chambers. They even contemplated and discussed rounding up and putting thousands into cattle cars in the heat of summer and transporting them just as the Nazi’s did in WWII towards the border and then dumping those who died in one pile and then driving the rest like cattle in a death march to the border even though most had jobs and even businesses in the U.S.

      • I haven’t studied the moon mission.

        If they faked their success it would make a lot of sense because it’s great propaganda for the U.S. to use against Russia and any other major power. The whole, “Don’t mess with us! Look what we can do. You can’t even imagine what else we got coming. Be afraid, very afraid. We’re next level.”

    • You know how the illegals can avoid all that trauma? Go home to whatever country they came from. Real easy.

      Let them follow the law like the rest of us.

  21. “Enforcement isn’t always the solution to those different types of crimes,” said Inimai Chettier, director of the justice program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The result might be to increase the federal prison population without a correlating reduction in crime.”

    This is flat out the most blatant political garbage I’ve read in a while. When people in justice get political, justice is perverted. NYU is in the heart of NYC, though, so there you go.

  22. Maybe Sessions should start enforcing other laws like cleaning up the Injustice Dept. and the Fraternal of Bad Individuals.

  23. Too many young black and brown men/boys will get impacted…NAACP and BLM will start crying racism…watch and see…

  24. Sessions is a great disappointment. The SWAMP man, prosecute the scum in the Swamp. The server wipers, the deep state. Focus man.

  25. Let’s start with arresting the new york ag for assault. Not a gun crime but we can start at the top.

    • He probably has a New York City carry permit. Hopefully it will be revoked for domestic violence/dating partner abuse. Pretty sure NY has that law on the books.

      We shall wait and see…

  26. As a resident of Baltimore, this brings me large amounts of joy. Hope the feds come in full force and stop the revolving door which is our criminal “justice” system.

  27. When “asset forfeiture” was first being proposed as a “crime fighting tool” to be used in the “war on (some) drugs”, I vigorously protested the use of this blatantly unconstitutional tactic as an assault on constitutional principles.
    My friends and associates immediately lambasted me for my views, calling me “soft on crime” in the “war on (some) drugs”, despite my prescience in predicting EXACTLY the scenario we presently live under…
    Now, “the chickens have indeed come home to roost”. American “law enforcement” (I use that term loosely) has become no better than bands of “highwaymen” (criminals “under color of authority”).
    Most people are unaware that a perverse incentive exists within this abuse of authority. Most jurisdictions reduce the budgets of their police departments by the amounts secured (actually stolen) under their asset forfeiture programs.
    It is long overdue to end this abuse…
    You can bet the same thing will happen with “vigorously-enforced gun crimes”.
    I know that my view on incarceration and punishment is unpopular with many, but here goes:
    Those who are convicted of felonies, as well as misdemeanors (misdemeanors involving domestic violence also trigger the loss of gun rights) should have ALL of their rights restore–yes, even gun rights, at the conclusion of their sentences, providing that the sentence is fully served and that any mandatory restoration is paid to the victims. I am inclined to go along with “ban the box” laws that prohibit employers from asking a person about their criminal record. It is a fact that many felons turn to crime as it is the only “profession” that is available to them. Giving a person a chance after making a mistake or poor judgement should be the rule, not the exception.

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