clear Section VI: Strategies to Respond to Illegal Gun Use


This section addresses the third phase of the gun violence continuum gun use and describes the ways in which the criminal justice system has responded to those who are charged with possessing and using firearms.

Focused Prosecution Strategies

Both prosecutors and the courts have developed new strategies to target illegal use of firearms by adults. U.S. Attorneys in several States have used enhanced Federal sanctions in cases against certain groups of gun offenders. In addition, U.S. Attorneys and local prosecutors have joined forces to find the best prosecutory forum for gun offenders. In many cases, special task forces have been created that include representatives from Federal, State, county, and local law enforcement agencies.

Although recent crime data show that juvenile arrests for murder and other violent crimes have been declining, public perceptions to the contrary have led to new legislation targeting juvenile offenders.

-- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Juvenile Court Statistics, 1995, 1998

The courts have also developed programs to deter gun use with swift, sure, and severe penalties. The Nation's first adult gun court was established in the Providence, RI, Superior Court in 1994 by a State statute that created a separate gun court calendar with concurrent jurisdiction with all other Superior Court calendars. It is anticipated that increasing the likelihood of imprisonment and lengthening its duration will have a deterrent effect on those who engage in gun violence.

Federal and State prosecutors have not only acquired increased discretion in juvenile cases, but also, in many jurisdictions, initiated their own programs to target violent juveniles.

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Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report