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Federal prosecutors announce new gun violence initiative

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The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Michigan has a new summertime gun violence prevention campaign.

TheSafe Summer 2023 initiative involves pursuing federal prosecution of people who possess guns linked to past shootings, rather than prosecuting them in state court.

Western District U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said the program is focused on deterrence, since federal crimes can carry steeper sentences.

“We want people who are willing to pull triggers, who illegally possess crime guns to know that they face the very real prospect of federal prosecution,” Totten said during a press conference in Lansing.

Totten said the program is tailored to fit his jurisdiction’s needs.

Law enforcement is pointing to so-called “crime guns” as a significant factor in Michigan violent crime.

The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said over 1,400 guns connected to prior crimes have been linked to thousands of shooting incidents in Michigan this year alone.

Despite the prevalence, ATF Detroit Special Agent in Charge James Deir said the goal of the program isn’t just to start locking people up.

“We’re looking at it through the lens of firearms that are involved in violent offenses. Either someone was hit or there was a target of that firearm violence. We’re using both of those as identifiers. The gun tells a story, the gun leads us to the suspect,” Deir said.

He said targeting crime guns has had a positive impact in cities like Jackson and Pontiac.

The Safe Summer 2023 program runs through the end of September.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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