"Okay, guys, you remember what I said about straw purchasers? Well, forget it. It just didn't work out, in case you hadn't noticed."
Over the electronic transom I received this document issued Monday by Eric Holder regarding "Law Enforcement Strategies for Reducing Gun Violence." Although I received it pdf form, I transcribed it to shield the source of this document from easy trace.
This memo announces a crack-down on straw purchasers, something that the October 2009 DOJ policy meeting declared was no longer of particular concern.
You will note that this memo is dated the same day as the first Gunwalker hearing, and reverts to the old policy of catching straw buyers and rolling them, something the agents at Wednesday's hearing bitterly complained that they were not allowed to do under Gunwalker.
Office of the Attorney General
Washington, D.C. 20530
June 13, 2011
MEMORANDUM TO ALL UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS
CC: DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, CRIMINAL DIVISION
ADMINISTRATOR, DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
DIRECTOR, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE
ACTING DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF ALCOHOL, TOBACCO, FIREARMS & EXPLOSIVES
FROM: The Attorney General (MBV: Initialed in blue ink, "E H")
SUBJECT: Law Enforcement Strategies for Reducing Gun Violence
The events in Tuscon in January and the continued upsurge in shootings of law enforcement officers serve as painful reminders that too many innocent citizens die senselessly each year at the hands of dangerous and violent individuals armed with a gun. Over the past five years, 67 percent of homicides in the United States have been committed with firearms. And too often, these gun crimes occur at the hands of persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms. Over the last several months, the Department has conducted numerous firearm policy meetings with outside stakeholders, including law enforcement officials, representatives from state and local governments, and firearms retailers, to discuss common sense approaches that will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others for whom possession of a firearm is against the law.
Last July at the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Conference in New Orleans, I outlined the Department's committment to modernizing our violent crime strategy and emphasized that enforcement, prevention, and re-entry must be the cornerstones of that strategy. The AGAC outlined this strategy in a November 2010 memo to all U.S. Attorneys. The U.S. Attorney community has always been at the forefront of the Department's anti-violence strategies, working with state, local and tribal officials to devise community-based anti-violence solutions. Our Federal investigative are integral to these efforts.
As your AUSAs work to implement the anti-violence strategy outlined last year, you should endeavor to heighten awareness of gun-related crime and the unique factors that cause it in your respective districts, and continue to work with state, tribal and local counterparts to identify the communities in which gun violence persists. Each District-specific anti-violence strategy should implement, in those communities, the enforcement, prevention and re-entry programs that will be most effective at reducing gun violence. As we approach the end of the school year and the warm summer months, our enforcement and prevention efforts will become even more important.
As we work to refine our strategies in this way, certain features of the most successful programs -- such as stepped-up enforcement against the most violent offenders, targeted enforcement in "hot spot" areas, and creative prevention and re-entry initiatives -- can and should be exported and adapted as best practices throughout the nation. I have begun mobilizing all available resources and expertise within the Department to support the adoption of those best practices.
Of course, we must focus not only on investigating and prosecuting violent crimes committed with guns, but also on stopping violent criminals from getting guns in the first place. Our violent crime strategies must therefore address both the criminals from getting guns in the first place. Our violent crime strategies must therefore address both the criminals who unlawfully possess and use firearms and the "straw purchasers" and other firearms traffickers who supply those criminals with guns.
In this regard, we encourage each district to carefully review recent enhancements to the Sentencing Guidelines that are aimed at "straw purchasers." The Sentencing Commission has amended the primary firearms guidline, S2K2.1, to increase penalties for straw purchasers whose offense of conviction is making false statements but who engage in the offense with knowledge, intent or reason to believe that the offense would result in the transfer of a firearm to a prohibited person. Under the newly-approved amendment, the base offense level will increase from 12 to 14 so that straw purchasers have the same base offense level as a straw purchaser convicted for knowingly distributing a firearm or ammunition to a prohibited person. The amendments to the guidlines also include higher penalties for straw purchasers who are involved with certain especially dangerous firearms and for those gun offenders involved in moving guns across the border. In the absence of Congressional actions, these enhancements recommended by the Sentencing Commission will go into effect in November, but in appropriate cases they can and should be brought to the court's attention now, as potentially relevant to a particular sentence.
In addition, the Department is undertaking an effort to coordinate multi-district gun-trafficking investigations in both source and market districts. These districts will be identified using ATF trace data. The aim is to dismantle firearms trafficking organizations and shut down the pipeline of illegal guns by improving our ability to share evidence and leads between law enforcement at both ends of the supply chain. As a part of that effort, the Criminal Division's Organized crime and Gang Section will be working with the United States Attorney's Offices and ATF in market districts and corresponding source districts to pursue coordinated investigations that utilize the resources, intelligence, and evidence found in both the source and market areas.
Finally, to enhance our ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute violent criminals and the traffickers who supply them with guns, I am further instructing each of you to implement a policy in your District to ensure that defendants who proffer in cases involving guns, drugs, gangs, or acts of violence are thoroughly debriefed about gun crime and gun trafficking, including the sources of illegal guns, and to ensure that relevant information obtained from these debriefings is shared with ATF for further investigation as appropriate. Whether the information obtained during such debriefings constitutes substantial assistance is of course a determination to be made by prosecutors in accordance with District and Department policies. Many of you
already encourage your AUSAs to debrief such individuals about gun crime; these debriefings should now be mandatory, and the information developed should be shared with your ATF field offices. Such debriefings will help ensure that we are maximizing our efforts to develop and utilize intelligence and evidence about gun crime in each district.
I appreciate your cooperation and your help with this important endeavor, one that can help communities and save lives. I also will appreciate knowing about your District's experiences with the initiatives outlined in this memorandum so that the Department may learn from your work in this area and your successes.