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Dept. of Justice charges 14K+ defendants with firearms-related crimes in 2020

Posted at 10:09 PM, Oct 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 01:11:55-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 14,200 defendants with firearms-related crimes during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, despite the challenges of COVID 19 and its impact on the criminal justice process.

These cases have been a Department priority since November 2019 when Attorney General William P. Barr announced a commitment to investigating, prosecuting, and combatting gun crimes as a critical part of the Department’s anti-violent crime strategy.

These firearms-related charges are the result of the critical law enforcement partnership between United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, led by Acting Director Regina Lombardo, with firearms-related investigations a priority.

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“The number one priority of government is to keep its citizens safe,” said Attorney General Barr. “By preventing firearms from falling into the hands of individuals who are prohibited from having them, we can stop violent crime before it happens. Violating federal firearms laws is a serious crime and offenders face serious consequences. The Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting individuals, who illegally buy, sell, use, or possess firearms. Reducing gun violence requires a coordinated effort, and we could not have charged more than 14,000 individuals with firearms-related crimes without the hard work of the dedicated law enforcement professionals at the ATF, our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, and especially all of our state and local law enforcement partners.”

“Protecting the public from violent crime involving firearms is at the core of ATF’s mission,” commented ATF Acting Director Regina Lombardo. “Every day the men and women of ATF pursue and investigate those who use firearms to commit violent crimes in our communities, many of whom are prohibited from possessing firearms from previous convictions. ATF, in collaboration with the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the nation, is committed to bringing these offenders to justice for their egregious and violent criminal acts.”

“Project Guardian — along with Project Safe Neighborhoods and our recent initiative, Project Veronica — is a cornerstone of our office’s violent crime reduction strategy,” said U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “To reduce gun violence in Nevada, we will continue prosecuting those who use firearms during a drug trafficking or violent crime offense; felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition; and those who knowingly buy guns for prohibited persons.”

“Protecting the public is at the forefront of ATF’s mission,” said Special Agent in Charge Patrick Gorman, San Francisco Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). “In November 2019, the United States Attorney General announced the launch of the Project Guardian initiative. The initiative focuses on ATF’s central role to combat gun violence. Project Guardian leverages three long-standing pillars of ATF’s comprehensive violent crime reduction strategy, which are the close collaboration between ATF, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and our law enforcement partners, as well as vigorous prosecution of federal firearms laws and the robust use of crime gun intelligence. Since the start of the Project Guardian initiative, the San Francisco Field Division has worked diligently with our partners to reduce gun violence in our local communities and will continue to advocate the comprehensive use of our National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN), firearm tracing and Crime Gun Intelligence Centers by our local, state, and federal partners. We will also continue to deploy our investigative resources strategically and stay intensely focused on our core mission of investigating violent criminals and the firearm traffickers and straw purchasers that arm them.”

Of the more than 14,200 cases charged, over 130 cases have been brought by the District of Nevada, announced U.S. Attorney Trutanich.

Under federal law, it is illegal to possess a firearm if you fall into one of nine prohibited categories including being a felon, illegal alien, or unlawful user of a controlled substance.

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Further, it is unlawful to possess a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense or violent crime. It is also illegal to purchase – or even to attempt to illegally purchase - firearms if the buyer is a prohibited person or illegally purchasing a firearm on behalf of others. Lying on ATF Form 4473, which is used to lawfully purchase a firearm, is also a federal offense.

The Department is committed to prosecuting these firearms offenses as well as using all modern technologies available to law enforcement such as the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network, known as NIBIN, to promote gun crime intelligence.

Keeping illegal firearms out of the hands of violent criminals will continue to be a priority of the Department of Justice and we will use all appropriate, available means to keep the law-abiding people of this country safe from gun crime.