NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Project Safe Neighborhoods Works

February 5, 2003

Attorney General John Ashcroft just gave his first significant update on Project Safe Neighborhoods, a flagship program launched in the first months of the Bush Administration. Gun criminals and the gun-control lobby might take notice.

Under Safe Neighborhoods, the Administration pledged $550 million, 113 new U.S. "gun prosecutors, "and more cooperation with state and local officials to put criminals who violate existing gun laws in jail." "It will send an unmistakable message," said President Bush at the launch. "If you use a gun illegally, you will do hard time."

The point here is that "hard time" resonates with the criminal class far more than "five-day waiting periods."

  • Since the start of Safe Neighborhoods, federal gun crime prosecutions have increased by 32 percent -- which doesn't include the greater state and local prosecutions that have also resulted from the program.
  • In 2002, more than 10,600 defendants were charged for violating federal firearm statutes, and 93 percent received prison sentences.
  • Seventy-one percent of those will spend three or more years in jail.

This is important, because two-thirds of all firearms crimes are committed by repeat offenders. Gun violence has declined from 12 percent of violent crime in 1993 to 9 percent in the most recent Justice statistics.

Source: Editorial, "Gun Control, Ashcroft Style," Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2003.

For text (WSJ subscription required),,SB1044232123411629504,00.html


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