Photo Courtesy of DOJ
U.S. Attorney General William Barr
By Forum Staff
The U.S. Department of Justice has developed a new and robust effort to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws across the country, Attorney General William Barr recently announced.
Project Guardian, according to Barr, draws on the Department’s earlier achievements, such as the “Triggerlock” program, and it serves as a complementary effort to the success of Project Safe Neighborhoods (the nationwide initiative that brings together federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community leaders to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in a community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them).
In addition, Project Guardian emphasizes the importance of using all modern technologies available to law enforcement to promote gun crime intelligence.
According to DOJ officials, Project Guardian’s implementation is based on five principles:
Coordinated Prosecution: Federal prosecutors and law enforcement will coordinate with state, local, and tribal law enforcement and prosecutors to consider potential federal prosecution for new cases involving a defendant who: a) was arrested in possession of a firearm; b) is believed to have used a firearm in committing a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime prosecutable in federal court; or c) is suspected of actively committing violent crime(s) in the community on behalf of a criminal organization.
Enforcing the Background Check System: U.S. Attorneys, in consultation with the Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in their district, will create new, or review existing, guidelines for intake and prosecution of federal cases involving false statements (including lie-and-try, lie-and-buy, and straw purchasers) made during the acquisition or attempted acquisition of firearms from Federal Firearms Licensees. Particular emphasis is placed on individuals convicted of violent felonies or misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, individuals subject to protective orders, and individuals who are fugitives where the underlying offense is a felony or misdemeanor crime of domestic violence; individuals suspected of involvement in criminal organizations or of providing firearms to criminal organizations; and individuals involved in repeat denials, Barr noted.
Improved Information Sharing: On a regular basis, and as often as practicable given current technical limitations, ATF will provide to state law enforcement fusion centers a report listing individuals for whom the National Instant Criminal Background Check System has issued denials, including the basis for the denial, so that state and local law enforcement can take appropriate steps under their laws.
Coordinated Response to Mental Health Denials: Each U.S. Attorney will ensure that whenever there is federal case information regarding individuals who are prohibited from possessing a firearm under the mental health prohibition, such information continues to be entered timely and accurately into the United States Attorneys’ Offices’ case-management system for prompt submission to NICS.
Crime Gun Intelligence Coordination: Federal, state, local, and tribal prosecutors and law enforcement will work together to ensure effective use of the ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence Centers, and all related resources, to maximize the use of modern intelligence tools and technology. These tools can greatly enhance the speed and effectiveness in identifying trigger-pullers and finding their guns, Barr said, but the success depends in large part on state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners sharing ballistic evidence and firearm recovery data with the ATF.