Hoping to stem a sharp increase in violent gun crimes, Nashville police and federal law enforcement agents have a new plan to make greater use of federal gun laws to prosecute criminals and keep them in prison to serve longer sentences, reports The Tennessean. Police Chief Ronal Serpas and Jim Cavanaugh, Nashville agent in charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the two agencies will now meet weekly to target the most egregious gun cases and shooting suspects. “We’re seeing young kids in the narcotics business shooting each other in less than fatal ways,” Serpas said. “I think that represents that they are confident they can get away with it. They are doing it in a way to intimidate each other, and that causes the other side to retaliate.” The result has been a bloody year.
From January through March, 724 violent gun crimes were recorded, a jump of nearly 17 percent from the same period last year. Serpas said his officers have taken 1,014 guns off the streets, a 5 percent increase over last year. The federal prosecutions will be funded largely through a Project Safe Neighborhood grant, an effort by the U.S. Justice Department that allocated $220 million to combat gun-related violence in local jurisdictions.