BREAKING NEWS US executes 2nd man in a week; lawyers said he had dementia Full Story

Justice Dept. rolls out new program to combat gun violence

Attorney General William Barr announced a new initiative Wednesday that would better enforce the U.S. gun background check system, coordinate state and federal gun cases and ensure prosecutors quickly update databases to show when a defendant can’t possess a firearm because of mental health issues.

Posted: Nov 13, 2019 3:41 PM
Updated: Nov 13, 2019 5:55 PM

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Attorney General William Barr announced a new initiative Wednesday that would better enforce the U.S. gun background check system, coordinate state and federal gun cases and ensure prosecutors quickly update databases to show when a defendant can’t possess a firearm because of mental health issues.

The push, known as Project Guardian, was unveiled at a news conference in Memphis, Tennessee, alongside officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, on the same day public impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump began in Washington.

As part of the program, U.S. prosecutors will coordinate with state and local law enforcement officials to consider potential federal charges when a suspect is arrested for weapons possession, is believed to have used a gun to commit a violent crime or drug-trafficking offense or is suspected of being a violent gang member.

“Gun crime remains a pervasive problem in too many communities across America,” Barr said in a statement.

The program “will strengthen our efforts to reduce gun violence by allowing the federal government and our state and local partners to better target offenders who use guns in crimes and those who try to buy guns illegally,” Barr said.

During the news conference, Barr said discussions about any new legislation tied to the project have been sidetracked due to the impeachment process on Capitol Hill. He said Congress has been asked for more resources, including more ATF agents and U.S. marshals.

“We are going forward with all the operational steps that we can take that do not require legislative action,” Barr said.

The initiative requires agents in charge of ATF offices across the country to either create new guidelines or review the protocols already in place to bring federal charges against people who lie in order to obtain a gun from a firearms dealer. Prosecutors will particularly focus on offenders who have violent backgrounds, are gang members or who have faced domestic violence charges.

U.S. attorney’s offices would also be required to quickly input information about people who can’t own guns for mental health reason into federal databases. The attorney general is also encouraging U.S. attorneys across the country to adopt programs that could help disrupt potential threats and consider recommending court-ordered mental health treatment, in some cases, for defendants found to be ineligible to own firearms for mental health reasons.

The federal government has come under scrutiny in recent years for failing to prevent some mass shooters from buying guns because of lapses in the background check system. In 2018, there were more than 26 million background checks conducted and fewer than 100,000 people failed. The vast majority were for a criminal conviction and just over 6,000 were rejected for a mental health issue.

Federal law defines nine categories that would prohibit someone from being legally allowed to own or possess a firearm. They include being convicted of any felony charge or a misdemeanor domestic violence, being subject to a restraining order or active warrants, being dishonorably discharged from the military, being addicted to drugs, renouncing your U.S. citizenship or being in the country illegally or being involuntarily committed to a mental health institution or being found by a court to be “a mental defective.”

A man who killed nine black parishioners at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015, was able to buy his gun even though he has admitted to possessing drugs and a gunman who killed 26 people at a church in Texas was able to pass a background check because the Air Force had failed to report his criminal history to the FBI, which maintains the background check database.

A gunman who went on a rampage in West Texas in September, killing seven people, illustrated that even those who are barred from owning guns can skirt the law. That gunman had obtained his AR-style rifle through a private sale, allowing him to evade a federal background check that blocked him from getting a gun in 2014 due to a “mental health issue,” a law enforcement official told The Associated Press at the time.

Barr said background checks would be enforced “with a vengeance.”

The new program will also help enhance ATF’s crime gun intelligence efforts, which the agency uses to identify and target criminals and identify where they get their guns.

Agents will work alongside prosecutors to “cut the pipeline of crime guns from those violent individuals who seek to terrorize our communities,” said Regina Lombardo, ATF’s acting deputy director.

Barr noted that Memphis has about five times the national average rate of violent crime. Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said violent crime in the Mississippi River city is way too high.

___

Balsamo reported from Washington.

Terre Haute
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 75°
Robinson
Overcast
73° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 73°
Indianapolis
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Rockville
Overcast
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 69°
Casey
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Brazil
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 75°
Marshall
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 75°
Heat and Humidity Return
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 157825

Reported Deaths: 7427
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook966624745
Lake10561429
DuPage9867492
Kane8218286
Will7436328
Winnebago3215106
St. Clair2436145
McHenry2347103
Kankakee145466
Madison131071
Rock Island125230
Unassigned1172201
Champaign108917
Kendall108621
Peoria73630
DeKalb66522
Boone64121
Sangamon58733
Jackson36619
McLean34015
Randolph3377
Ogle3254
Stephenson2876
LaSalle28617
Macon25922
Clinton25617
Whiteside22415
Union21519
Coles20917
Adams2081
Grundy2025
Tazewell1968
Iroquois1795
Knox1760
Williamson1734
Monroe17113
Warren1500
Cass14010
Morgan1354
Henry1251
Jefferson12317
Lee1102
McDonough11015
Vermilion962
Montgomery902
Pulaski860
Marion810
Macoupin753
Perry631
Douglas620
Livingston582
Jo Daviess571
Woodford552
Franklin540
Christian534
Jersey481
Jasper477
Clark450
Bureau442
Ford421
Effingham351
Menard330
Cumberland310
Johnson290
Mason290
Mercer290
Fayette283
Moultrie280
Washington280
Logan270
Alexander260
Shelby231
Wabash230
Bond211
Carroll212
Hancock211
Piatt210
Crawford200
Edgar200
Saline200
Wayne191
De Witt180
Fulton180
Massac170
White170
Schuyler140
Lawrence130
Marshall130
Greene120
Brown100
Richland100
Clay80
Gallatin80
Henderson80
Pike80
Hamilton70
Stark60
Edwards50
Calhoun20
Hardin20
Pope20
Out of IL10
Putnam10
Scott10

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 53370

Reported Deaths: 2785
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12276699
Lake5831252
Elkhart379462
Allen3013136
St. Joseph229470
Hamilton1800101
Cass16559
Hendricks1496102
Johnson1379118
Vanderburgh9056
Porter87338
Tippecanoe80210
Clark73644
Madison69364
LaPorte64828
Howard62158
Bartholomew61245
Marshall60112
Kosciusko5984
Noble53028
Boone50144
LaGrange49110
Delaware48752
Jackson4853
Hancock47636
Shelby46425
Floyd43544
Monroe38528
Dubois3657
Grant34726
Morgan34731
Henry30718
Montgomery29920
Clinton2953
Dearborn28924
Warrick28529
White28310
Vigo2658
Decatur25732
Lawrence25425
Harrison22122
Greene20033
Miami2002
Jennings18112
Putnam1798
DeKalb1714
Scott1679
Wayne1676
Perry16411
Daviess15517
Jasper1422
Steuben1413
Orange14023
Gibson1382
Ripley1377
Franklin1328
Wabash1233
Starke1183
Carroll1152
Whitley1116
Fayette1097
Newton10110
Jefferson982
Huntington942
Wells851
Fulton811
Randolph814
Knox770
Posey750
Jay720
Washington701
Clay675
Pulaski661
Rush653
Spencer641
Sullivan581
Owen541
Adams521
Benton510
Brown461
Blackford412
Fountain382
Crawford350
Tipton351
Switzerland310
Martin280
Parke280
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Union170
Pike160
Warren161
Unassigned0193