There’s a new sheriff in town and criminals are increasingly finding out what that means. President Trump issued a directive, which seemed novel to some, and common sense to most lawful gun owners. According to a recently released memo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department was directed to focus on getting illegal guns, and those who possessed them, off the streets. The result? Well, according to the memo released by the Justice Department, during April, May, and June of 2017, federal prosecutions for unlawful possession of a firearm were 23 percent higher than the same period last year.
Federal prosecutors brought unlawful possession charges against 2,637 people (during the months previously mentioned), mostly convicted felons, according to the Justice Department. During the same period in 2016, prosecutors working in the Obama administration charged 2,149 people. There was also a 10 percent increase in the number of prosecutions for using a firearm in a crime of violence or drug trafficking.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement that “Following President Trump’s Executive Order to focus on reducing crime, I directed federal prosecutors to prioritize taking illegal guns off of our streets, and as a result, we are now prosecuting hundreds more firearms defendants.” As Mr. Sessions’ statement noted, the prosecutions send “a clear message to criminals all over this country that if you carry a gun illegally, you will be held accountable.” According to the statement, the second quarter figures are part of a significant trend in prosecutions: Based on data from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA), in Fiscal Year 2016 (starting October 1), 11,656 defendants were charged with firearms offenses under 18 U.S.C. 922 or 924. EOUSA projects that in Fiscal Year 2017, the Department is on pace to charge 12,626 defendants with these firearms crimes. That would be the most federal firearms cases since 2005. It would also be an increase of eight percent from Fiscal Year 2016, 20 percent from 2015, and an increase of 23 percent from 2014.