Feds crack down on felons with firearms; longer sentences likely

There is a new plan to curb gun violence in Detroit tonight The message- "Do the crime, do even more time."

Felons caught with illegal weapons will face tougher federal penalties that could land them behind bars for decades.

At just 17-years-old, Michael Williams knows more about gun violence than anyone should ever have to.

"When my brother died behind a gun," said Williams. "It's always around - it's all we see - it's all around my neighborhood."

On Monday, the Osborn Evergreen Academy junior is with the Detroit One Partnership law enforcement and community groups committed to cutting crime in  Detroit.

"Gun violence in the city of Detroit is at an unacceptable level," said Mayor Mike Duggan.

And so begins the first step of a multi-step campaign. The U.S. attorney announcing more federal prosecutors will be cracking down on felons possessing firearms.

Public service announcements and soon billboards will explain the serious time behind bars people could be facing.

US attorney Barbara McQuade says even felons in possession of a gun with just one prior violent act could be prosecuted in the federal courts.

"Fifteen-year mandatory minimum that is available for a person who merely possesses a gun if they have three prior crimes of violence," said McQuade. "Or convictions for drug trafficking offenses."

The US attorney says funding for the Department of Justice will enable them to devote two more prosecutes to putting felons with firearms behind bars for a long time.

"It worked for carjacking - let's try it for guns - the public awareness campaign I think is huge," said McQuade. "When we meet defendants and encounter them, and bring them to court, and explain to them the kind of penalties they're facing. They are shocked."

It is believed the Detroit One Partnership's anti-carjacking campaign was a big success - carjackings were down 32 percent last year.

Duggan says crime is down across the board except for shootings. And summer often means more violence crime.

Duggan says this is just the first of a number of steps in this process. Before long they will be expanding the gang squad as well.

"We know one initiative and one announcement isn't going to solve it," said Duggan. "But every month that goes by we are going to make it more and more difficult to get away with a crime using a gun."
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