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Kansas stays near top in prosecuting federal gun cases

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at 3:21 p.m.

Kansas remains among the nation’s leaders in filing cases on federal gun charges.

For a second straight fiscal year, the state ranks third among the 94 federal judicial districts by filing 298 firearm cases, according to figures released Thursday by U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office. Kansas ranked first in 2011.

Grissom has made prosecuting firearms charges at the federal level a priority since 2010, spokesman Jim Cross said. Grissom regularly encourages local law enforcement to use federal laws as an “effective tool for fighting gun violence,” Cross said.

Among the federal statutes used in filing the cases are possessing a firearm to further drug trafficking or violent crimes and the prohibition of a convicted felon to have a gun. By prosecuting cases on federal charges, career criminals can be given stiffer sentences than if they were charged at the local level, Cross said.

In 2013, Grissom’s office filed 298 gun charges, trailing only the District of Puerto Rico’s 349 and the Western District of Missouri’s 299.

Kansas had 291 cases in 2012, when it also ranked third in the nation. The state ranked first in 2011 with 279 firearms cases filed.

The state filed 134 cases on gun charges in 2009 before jumping to 238 in 2010, according to statistics provided by Grissom’s office.

For gun cases, the number of convictions and longer sentences have also increased.

In 2013, there were 203 convictions, an increase of 7 percent from 2012 and 12 percent since 2010.

There were 56 convictions that resulted in sentences of 37 to 60 months in 2013, an increase of nearly 17 percent from 2012. Sentences of 61 months or longer jumped almost 12 percent, increasing to 85 in 2013.

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rickplumlee.

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