Baltimore may have failed in their efforts to crack down on gun crimes, but that’s not the case across the rest of the country according to new figures released by the Justice Department. Compared to the same period last year, there’s been a 23% increase in arrests and federal charges for violent gun crimes in 2017. The Attorney General broke the news yesterday. (Government Executive)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced a 23 percent leap in federal charges against defendants illegally possessing firearms, a toughened approach in line with Trump administration priorities.

“Violent crime is on the rise in many parts of this country, with 27 of our biggest 35 cities in the country coping with rising homicide rates,” Sessions said. “Law abiding people in some of these communities are living in fear, as they see families torn apart and young lives cut short by gangs and drug traffickers.”

In March, following President Trump’s February memo setting up a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, Sessions directed prosecutors to make firearms offenses a new priority.

This is probably some fortuitous timing for the AG (or could it be more than a coincidence?) given the rather restive nature of Jeff Sessions’ relationship with the President of late. But the numbers don’t lie and it’s yet another reason for keeping Sessions right where he is. Law and order was one of the major priorities for the Trump administration from day one, showing up in his initial flurry of executive orders and more campaign speeches than you can shake a stick at. And rather than just talking about it, Sessions has clearly had the department at work cracking down on illegal gun crimes.

From the political angle this is a significant win also. Gun rights groups have been making the argument for years that the real path to increased safety for American citizens does not involve making it harder for the law abiding to legally obtain firearms, but through taking the illegally held weapons off the street along with the criminals employing them to do harm. That was the sentiment expressed by the NRA after this announcement came out.

Sessions’ announcement did draw praise from Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. Cox commended Sessions and Trump “for understanding that prosecuting violent criminals and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners are not mutually exclusive ideas. After suffering an all-time low during the Obama administration, federal prosecutions of illegal firearm possession are now being taken seriously.”

Sounds about right to me You can’t end gang violence in the cities overnight even by cracking down on them with increased weapons charges, but it surely begins to erode their power. And if residents of violence plagued areas see the government taking their job seriously, it just may give the law abiding among them the incentive to begin supporting law enforcement and taking back their neighborhoods.