Weapons Convictions for 2020
Table 1: Criminal Weapons Convictions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during the first seven months of FY 2020 the government reported 5,095 new weapons convictions.
If this activity continues at the same pace, the annual total of convictions
will be 8,734 for this fiscal year. According to the case-by-case information
analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this estimate
is up 0.4% over the past fiscal year when the number of convictions totaled
The comparisons of the number of defendants convicted for weapons-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the
Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States
Attorneys (see Table 1).
Compared to five years ago when there were 6,002, the estimate of FY 2020 convictions of this type is up 45.5 percent. Convictions over the past year are higher than they were
ten years ago. Overall, the data show that convictions of this type are up 23
percent from the level of 7,101 reported in 2010 and up 121 percent from the level of 3,959 reported in 2000.
The long term trend in weapons convictions for these matters going back to
FY 2000 is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of weapons convictions of this type recorded each
fiscal year. Projected figures for the current fiscal year are shown. Each
presidential administration is distinguished by the color of the bars. To view
trends month-by-month rather than year-by-year, see TRAC's monthly report series for the latest data.
Figure 1: Criminal Weapons Convictions over the last 20 years
Leading Program Categories
Within the broad category of weapons, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.
Case types within weapons are
Weapons-Armed Career Criminal Act
Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major
Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Other
The single largest number of convictions of these matters through April 2020 was for "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major", accounting for all convictions.
Figure 2: Convictions by Investigative Agency
Leading Investigative Agencies
The lead investigative agency for weapons convictions through April 2020
was "Justice - Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (formerly Treasury)" accounting for 64.2 percent of convictions.
As shown in Figure 2, additional agencies with substantial numbers of weapons convictions were:
Justice - Federal Bureau of Investigation (12.3%), "Other - State/Local Authorities" (8.7%), "Justice - Drug Enforcement Administration" (3.6%), "Homeland Security - Immigration and Customs Enforcement" (2.9%).
Top Ranked Lead Charges
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the convictions of weapons matters
filed in U.S. District Court during the first seven months of FY 2020.
Note: There were an additional 82 other lead charges which were not individually ranked. See latest monthly report if you
want all lead charges included in rankings for the latest month, or use TRACFED
criminal analyzer tool for complete listing for any year.
Table 2: Top charges for convictions
"Firearms; Unlawful acts" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.
Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 was ranked 1st a year ago, while it was the 1st most frequently invoked five years ago. It was ranked 1st ten years ago and 1st twenty years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Firearms; Penalties" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 924.
Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was the 2nd most frequently invoked five years ago. It was ranked 2nd ten years ago and 2nd twenty years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Hobbs Act" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951.
Title 18 U.S.C Section 1951 was ranked 3rd a year ago, while it was the 3rd most frequently invoked five years ago. It was ranked 4th ten years ago and 6th twenty years ago.
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
projected decline in convictions compared to one year ago—down -27 percent—was
"Firearms; Penalties " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 924 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest projected decrease—-7.4%—when compared with five years ago.
Top Ranked Judicial Districts
During FY 2019 the Justice Department said the government obtained 26.6 weapons
convictions for every one million people in the United States. If pace during the first seven months of FY 2020 continues at the same rate,
weapons convictions for one million people in the United States this
year will be 26.7 . Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita
number of weapons convictions in each of the nation's ninety-four
federal judicial districts
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per one million people)
The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis)—with 192.72 convictions as compared with 26.7 convictions per one million people in the United States—was the most active through April 2020.
The Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis) was ranked 1st a year ago. The district's position ten years ago was 4th and 17th twenty years ago.
The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) ranked 2nd.
The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) was ranked 8th a year ago. The district's position ten years ago was 65th and 1st twenty years ago.
The Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) now ranks 3rd.
The Southern District of Alabama (Mobile) was ranked 2nd a year ago, while it was ranked 1st five years ago. The district's position ten years ago was 7th and 11th twenty years ago.
Recent entries to the top 10 list were South Dakota, Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock), Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling) and Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston), now ranked 6th, 8th, 10th and 9th. These districts ranked 14th, 18th, 22nd and 25th one year ago and 10th, 32nd, 12th and 24th five years ago.
Compared to 10 years ago, Northern District of West Virginia (Wheeling), Montana, Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock), Northern District of Iowa (Cedar Rapids), South Dakota, Southern District of West Virginia (Charleston) and Washington, D.C. (Washington) now ranked in the top 10 did not appear in the top ten.
And compared to 20 years ago, Southern District of Alabama (Mobile), Northern District of Iowa (Cedar Rapids), Eastern District of Missouri (St. Louis), Western District of Tennessee (Memphis), South Dakota and Eastern District of Arkansas (Little Rock) were not sufficiently active to then make the top 10.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest projected growth in the rate of weapons convictions
compared to one year ago—84.4 percent—was Washington, D.C. (Washington).
This was the same district that had the largest projected increase—623%—when compared with five years ago.
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest projected drop in the rate of weapons convictions—32.0 percent—was Western District of Tennessee (Memphis).
Report Generated: June 22, 2020