Gun Violence Remains a Major Problem in the United States
According to the National Institute of Justice, in 2005, 11,346 persons were killed by firearm violence and 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm. Most murders in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns.
People between the ages of 15 and 24 are most likely to be targeted by gun violence. From 1976 to 2005, 77 percent of homicide victims ages 15-17 died from gun-related injuries. This age group was most at risk for gun violence during this time period.
Teens and young adults are more likely than persons of other ages to be murdered with a gun. Most violent gun crime, especially homicide, occurs in cities and urban communities. More information is available on the Office of Justice Programs National Institute of Justice website.
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and providing those programs with additional tools to fit the specific gun crime problems in each area. The goal is to create safer neighborhoods by reducing gun violence and sustaining that reduction.
In the Western District of Washington, Project Safe Neighborhoods has provided federal funds for the hiring of additional federal and state prosecutors to handle gun related prosecutions. The United States Attorney’s Office created a PSN Task Force to address gun violence issues in the Western District of Washington.
The PSN Task Force agreed that the bulk of money should go to assisting law enforcement in addressing the violent and gun crime in those areas. The Tacoma Violent Crime Task Force, a partnership of federal, state and local law enforcement has successfully used PSN funding to take some of the most violent offenders off the streets in Tacoma/Pierce County.
Additionally the Task Force identified a growing problem of fugitives from justice who continue to commit gun crimes because there are not adequate resources for law enforcement to apprehend them. The Fugitive Apprehension Task Force of the U.S. Marshal Service was expanded by using PSN funds to pay local officers' overtime and travel costs, thus insuring a dynamic, mobile enforcement effort throughout the District.
The PSN Task Force has also funded two Special Assistant United States Attorneys, from the King County and Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Offices, who evaluate all firearms crimes committed in those counties. The SAUSAs determine whether the cases should be adopted for federal prosecution, by considering whether or not federal prosecution of a defendant would further the aim of making our communities safer. In 2010, King County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and SAUSA, C. Andrew Colasurdo, received the DOJ’s national PSN Award for Outstanding Local Prosecutor, due to his extensive and exemplary work as a PSN SAUSA. As a result of the Western District of Washington’s PSN SAUSA program, hundreds of firearms cases have been reviewed for federal prosecution, producing successful federal and state prosecutions.
The FireArm Crime Enforcement (FACE) Coalition of King County was designated as one of the model programs during the development of the national Project Safe Neighborhoods Program. It is a coalition of county-wide law enforcement; federal law enforcement; prosecutors - both federal and state; Washington State Department of Corrections and the U.S. Probation Department; and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. FACE addresses problems and concerns on gun crime enforcement and prosecution and to develop on-going district wide training on gun crime enforcement. It has been very effective in keeping the focus on gun crimes and in developing innovative procedures to insure that gun crimes have a high visibility for prosecution.
For further information on this District's PSN effort please contact:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Otake