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The Department of Justice's latest report on gun violence by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows a 39% drop in gun murders from 1993 to 2011. Non-fatal gun crimes are down 69%.
In 2011, homicides made up about 2% of all firearm-related crimes. During the same period, gun sales increased. Also, 60% of state inmates charged with gun crimes obtained their guns legally. Only 2% got their guns at a gun show:
60 percent of state prison inmates arrested for a gun-related crime obtained their guns legally: 37 percent from family or friends, 10 percent from a retail or pawn shop and just 2 percent from a gun show or flea market.
The full report is here.
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Attorney General Eric Holder sent out a memo to Justice Department employees Friday (available here) saying he transferred $150 million from DOJ's funds to the Bureau of Prisons to avoid mass furloughs of prison guards and staffers.
Absent this intervention, we faced the need to furlough 3,570 staff each day from the federal prisons around the country. The loss of these correctional officers and other staff who supervise the 176,000 prisoners at 119 institutions would have created serious threats to the lives and safety of our staff, inmates, and the public.[...more]
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During today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Department of Justice Oversight, Attorney General Eric Holder defended the prosecution of Aaron Swartz. He said prosecutors offered him a three month sentence and later said they would seek six months. He said the charges carried a potential of 35 years in prison.
What about the overcharging? Any prosecutor can overcharge and then offer you a deal to what you should have been charged with in the first place. What kind of deal is that?
Holder said DOJ has examined the matter and determined the prosecutors acted appropriately. Their examination included talking to the prosecutors. Did they talk to defense counsel? [More...]
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Attorney General Eric Holder will testify this morning at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on DOJ oversight. Many expect him to discuss DOJ's response to Colorado and Washington's recently passed marijuana legalization laws.
I doubt the objections to the laws raised yesterday by former DEA officials will sway him. When they wrote him in September 2012, before the elecion, asking him to publicly take a stand against the laws there was no response. There was silence. Here is their latest letter. The organization on the letterhead, Save Our Society From Drugs, is political action committee. [More...]
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Some thought it would never happen. Others thought it was inevitable. Regardless, the time is upon us. Federal judges are turning to drug courts and even deferred prosecutions in drug cases, a policy that has met with good success rates in state court, with the agreement of DOJ.
Leading the charge is U.S. District court judge Jack Gleeson in Brooklyn.
Federal judges have instituted programs in California, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. About 400 defendants have been involved nationwide.
Judge Gleeson issued this 35 page order about the benefits of the program in comparison to our draconian sentencing laws. [More...]
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Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill allowing online gambling in New Jersey. Nevada and Delaware are doing the same.
The federal government changed its position in 2011 to allow some online gaming within states where gambling is legal, but it is unknown whether the federal government will move to broaden the market.
The feds need to do the same for marijuana. AG Eric Holder says he is getting ready to make a decision on how DOJ will respond to recently passed laws in Colorado and Washington.
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The U.S. Sentencing Commission has released its report on sentencing in child p*rn cases. It makes several recommendations, including lowering penalties for some offenders.
The Commission believes that the current non-production guideline warrants revision in view of its outdated and disproportionate enhancements related to offenders’ collecting behavior as well as its failure to account fully for some offenders’ involvement in child pornography communities and sexually dangerous behavior. The current guideline produces overly severe sentencing ranges for some offenders, unduly lenient ranges for other offenders, and widespread inconsistent application.
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VP Joe Biden met with the NRA today. The NRA is not happy.
Biden sat down for about an hour and a half of talks with an NRA representative and officials from other gun owners' groups after telling reporters he is likely to recommend background checks for all gun buyers and a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.
"It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation's most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen," the NRA said in a statement after the meeting.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also called for universal background checks today. Colorado has background checks for commercial sales and gun shows, but not private transactions. [More...]
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Here is the SAMSA's latest "State Estimates of Nonmedical Use of Prescription Pain Relievers."
Six percent of Coloradans said they used prescription painkillers — such as Percocet or Oxycontin — for nonmedical purposes in 2010 and 2011, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. That was second only to Oregon, where the rate was 6.37 percent.
How about reading the fine print? [More...]
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What I'm reading on guns today:
- Gun sales spike after Newtown, other mass slayings
- Denver gun show draws huge crowd despite long background-check times (Same in Ohio, Wisconsin, NJ, RI,NC, Nevada, Iowa, Idaho, and many other states, with most citing fears of new gun laws.)
- California gun sales jump; gun injuries, deaths fall
- Colorado gun-control advocates and foes mobilize for new legislation
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The Journal News, a Westchester County, NY paper, has stirred a lot of outrage over its publication this week of a map with the names and home addresses of those with permits for handguns. The story's headline was "Where are the Guns in Your Neighborhood?" Here is the interactive map.
Since that's where I grew up, I went right to my old neighborhood and clicked on all the dots. While it brought a sense of nostalgia, it also felt like a complete privacy intrusion.
Are gun owners now going to be stigmatized like sex offenders?
The Journal News defends its publication decision here. [More...]
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The NRA held a press conference today calling for armed guards in schools.
"The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
The NRA says our existing gun laws are sufficient.
Mr. LaPierre said Friday that thousands of gun laws already are on the books. He suggested, though, that the prescription was not more legislation, but more security in schools.
Former Congressman (and DEA Director) Asa Hutchinson will lead their effort to get Congress to adopt their ideas. [More...]
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In an interview airing today with Barbara Walters, President Obama says his administration will not interfere with the recently passed marijuana laws in Colorado or Washington legalizing recreational marijuana use. Walters asks him if he supports marijuana legalization. His response:
"I wouldn't go that far," Obama replied. "But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue."
"... as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions," Obama said. "It does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law, that's legal."
This may be the most-watched Barbara Walters interview ever. It airs tonight on 20/20. You can watch Obama's answer here.
Does this mean DOJ will not challenge the laws' provisions on licensing and sales?
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It's official. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed Amendment 64. Adult possession of small amounts of marijuana is no longer a state crime in Colorado.
Hickenlooper also issued an executive order today forming the 24-member Force on the Implementation of Amendment 64. Its membership will include lawmakers and stakeholders representing the interests of prosecutors, defense lawyers, the medical marijuana industry, backers of Amendment 64, the addiction treatment community, public health institutions, cities, counties, “a representative of marijuana consumers,” employers and employees, among others.
Its meetings will be public, and the targeted date for its recommendations to the governor is Feb. 28.
Congratulations, Coloradans. You did it. Voting matters.
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Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group and member of the Global Drug Commision, has an op-ed at CNN on the failure of the war on drugs.
Here we are, four decades after Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs in 1971 and $1 trillion spent since then. What do we have to show for it?
The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world, with about 2.3 million behind bars. More than half a million of those people are incarcerated for a drug law violation. What a waste of young lives.
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