Was Sessions a ‘National Leader’ in Gun Prosecutions?

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Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, during his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, pledged that, if his nomination is approved, he would take on the rising number of homicides in some cities by deploying the weight of the federal courts against illegal firearms use. As proof of his commitment, he cited his own resume. “As United States Attorney, my office was a national leader in gun prosecutions nearly every year,” Sessions said. Available records do not support that statement, reports The Trace. The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a database at Syracuse University that relies on Freedom of Information Act requests, has collected prosecution records dating to 1986. U.S. Attorneys choose the category that applies to each case, and there is no specific tally of gun prosecutions, which instead are counted under “weapons.”

Sessions served as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama from 1981 until 1993. TRAC says that between 1986 and 1990, his office did not prosecute a single defendant in what it counted as a weapons case. In 1991, Sessions’s office prosecuted 31 weapons cases, placing it 29th, by volume, out of the 93 U.S. Attorney offices nationwide. In 1992 and 1993, Sessions and his team picked up the pace of weapons prosecutions, reporting 49 and 54 such cases, respectively. Those totals nonetheless did not move the Southern District of Alabama out of the middle of the pack.

 

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