DOJ Charges 500+ Domestic Violence–Related Firearms Cases in Fiscal Year 2020 | USAO-WDTN

Western District of Tennessee Has Charged 25 Cases in FY 20

Memphis, TN – Today, the Department of Justice announced it has charged more than 500 domestic violence cases involving firearms during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. A Department priority since 2019 when Attorney General William P. Barr created the Department of Justice’s first ever-Domestic Violence Working Group, these 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, who has made domestic violence firearms-related investigations a priority.

“Keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminal offenders is one of the Department of Justice’s top priorities,” said Attorney General Barr. “This is especially important when it comes to individuals with prior domestic violence convictions. The statistics are clear that when domestic violence offenders have access to guns, their partners and their families are at much greater risk of falling victim to gun violence. In fact, in some communities across America, roughly half of the homicides are related to domestic violence. The Department of Justice is committed to keeping guns out of the hands of those who are prohibited from having them, and we will continue investigating and prosecuting all domestic violence firearms related crimes.”

“According to the CDC, data suggests that about one in six homicide victims are killed by an intimate partner,” said ATF Acting Director Lombardo. “Nearly half of female homicide victims in the U.S. are killed by a current or former male intimate partner. ATF is committed to aggressively pursuing prohibited possession of firearms due to domestic violence convictions and certain protective orders. It is another way we prevent violent gun crime within our communities.”

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said: “Persons with histories of domestic violence present a known and immediate risk of violence to their families and the community at large. The presence of a firearm during a crime of domestic violence dramatically increases the chances that the victim or other family members in the household, including children,will be fatally shot. A central component of PSN is that safe neighborhoods begin with safe homes, and through our aggressive federal prosecution of these known abusers, we can incapacitate and hold dangerous offenders accountable, send a strong message of deterrence, reduce violent crime rates, and ultimately save lives.”

Of the more than 500 cases charged, 25 cases have been brought by the Western District of Tennessee in FY 2020, announced U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant. Here in the Western District of Tennessee, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has dramatically increased the number of defendants charged with domestic violence-related firearms offenses over the last 3 years:

FY 2016 FY 2017 FY 2018 FY 2019 FY 2020

Defendants charged 1 15 33 22 25

Examples of successful federal prosecutions of firearms offenses committed by domestic abusers in West Tennessee over the last year include the following:

• Domestic Abuser Sentenced to 6 Years for Unlawful Possession of Multiple Firearms: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/domestic-abuser-sentenced-6- years-unlawful-possession-multiple-firearms

• Convicted Felon with Prior Domestic Violence History Given 5 Year Sentence for Gun Possession: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/convicted-felon-prior-domestic-violence-history-given-5-year-sentence-gun-possession

• Convicted Felon Sentenced to Over 7 Years for Possession of Firearm During Domestic Violence Incident and Possession of Ammunition After Threatening and Evading Law Enforcement: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/convicted-felon-sentenced-over-7-years-possession-firearm-during-domestic-violence

• Convicted Felon Sentenced to Federal Prison for Possession of a Firearm During Domestic Violence Incident: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/convicted-felon-sentenced-federal-prison-possession-firearm-during-domestic-violence

• Convicted Felon in Possession of a Firearm During Domestic Violence Incident Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/convicted-felon-possession-firearm-during-domestic-violence-incident-sentenced-10-years

• Convicted Felon with Prior Domestic Violence Conviction Sentenced to Federal Prison for Being in Possession of Ammunition: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtn/pr/convicted-felon-prior-domestic-violence-conviction-sentenced-federal-prison-being

This significant increase in federal charges and convictions in this category is a direct result of the Justice Department’s aggressive effort to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. This effort, combined with the re-invigoration of Project Safe

Neighborhoods (PSN) and the Justice Department’s concerted efforts to prosecute violent crime through Project Guardian and Operation LeGend, has resulted in this success.

Under federal law, individuals with domestic violence misdemeanor and felony convictions, as well as individuals subject to domestic violence protective orders, are prohibited from possessing firearms. The data shows that offenders with domestic violence in their past pose a high risk of homicide. In fact, domestic violence abusers with a gun in the home are five times more likely to kill their partners.

The Working Group, chaired by U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox, of the Northern District of Texas, disseminates legal guidance on keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers using three federal statutes:

• 18 USC § 922 (g)(1), felon in possession of a firearm

• 18 USC § 922 (g)(9), possession of a firearm by a prohibited person (misdemeanor crime of domestic violence)

• 18 USC § 922 (g)(8), possession of a firearm while subject to a domestic violence protective order

Based on the Working Group’s guidance, in FY 2020, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide brought 337 domestic violence felon-in-possession charges, 54 possession while subject to a protective order charges, and 142 possession by a prohibited person charges.

For more information on domestic violence or to get help, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

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