Gun offenders in Seattle could do more prison time

Jun 18, 2012

Local and U.S. officials say they’re getting more aggressive about prosecuting gun crimes in Seattle, funneling more offenders into the stricter federal system. Law enforcement officials hope the threat of longer sentences and tougher prisons will deter more crimes. U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said it’s a proven strategy.

“Some hardened criminals are very smart. They know what time they will do, they know where they will do the time, and they know where they’ll find guns. We want them to get the message that if they do a crime and there’s federal jurisdiction with a gun, they will be prosecuted federally,” Durkan said.

Independent research does suggest this strategy gets results, though it’s hard to draw strong conclusions.

An Expanded Effort

Durkan’s office already goes after some of the most egregious offenders in King County. Last year the feds took on less than a third of the gun cases that fell under both state and federal jurisdiction. Now, Durkan says they will prosecute almost every case they can.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says ideally he’d prefer to tighten up state laws.

“But we’re not going to sit back and wait for those laws to change to take action. We’re looking at how we deploy our resources, and we’re looking at the enforcement side,” McGinn said.

Seattle has had more murders so far in 2012 than it had all of last year, though it still has a relatively low murder rate for a big American city.