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Press Release

DOJ Charges Over 14,200 Defendants with Firearms-Related Crimes in FY20

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia
Eastern District of Virginia Charged Over 200 Defendants from Oct. 2019 through Sept. 2020

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Today 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 his 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), led by Acting Director Regina Lombardo, who has made firearms-related investigations a priority.

“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.”

“Combatting violent crime has been a top priority for the Eastern District of Virginia,” said United States Attorney, G. Zachary Terwilliger. “With the critical support of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we have surged resources to those areas hardest hit by firearms violence: Richmond, Petersburg, and the Peninsula. A critical part of this work has been prioritizing cases for federal prosecution such as the straw purchasing of firearms, felons in possession of firearms, and use of a firearm during a drug trafficking or violent crime offense. We will remain steadfast in this work until all of the Eastern District’s communities can walk out their front doors without constant fear of criminal crossfire.”

Of the more than 14,200 cases charged, over 200 defendants have been charged here in the Eastern District of Virginia.

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. 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.

For more information on the lawful purchasing of firearms, please see:

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.


Contact: Joshua Stueve
Director of Public Affairs

Updated October 13, 2020

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