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Detroit cracking down on gun crime with more federal penalties

Jun 1, 2015

Detroit is cracking down on gun violence with a new initiative.
Credit Steve Buissinne / Creative Commons

Law enforcement officials in Detroit today announced a new initiative to curb the city's gun violence.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is partnering with the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office to step up federal prosecution for violent felons caught with guns.

That means lengthier sentences for offenders.

A felon with three prior convictions who is caught with a gun in Detroit would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.

As part of the effort, Mayor Mike Duggan said there are plans to add 200 to 300 cops to Detroit's streets in the coming year.

"We may not have the resources to get everybody right now, but we do have the resources to go after everybody who chooses to use a gun," Duggan said.

Fatal and non-fatal shootings in Detroit have ranged between 1,400 and 1,600 annually since 2012.

Duggan said Monday's announcement is just one step in a lengthy process to curb those numbers.

"Every month that goes by, we're going to make it more and more difficult to get away with a crime using a gun," he said.

The new effort also includes a public campaign emphasizing the lengthy prison terms violent felons face if caught in possession of a firearm.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said the campaign is "huge." 

"When we explain to defendants the kinds of penalties they're facing, they're shocked," McQuade said. "It's up to us to make sure before they commit the crime, they're aware of those very serious penalties."