New Justice Dept. initiative aims to reduce gun violence in Virginia, surrounding areas

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A new initiative announced by the Department of Justice aims to reduce violent crime and improve enforcement of federal firearm laws in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV).

(PHOTO: Courtesy MGN.)

ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — A new initiative announced by the Department of Justice aims to reduce violent crime and improve the enforcement of federal firearm laws in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

The initiative – Project Guardian-DMV – draws upon previous programs and will support current law enforcement efforts, such as Project Safe Neighborhoods.

“Straw purchasers and firearms traffickers do more than commit paperwork violations or illegally sell a firearm – they knowingly put firearms in the hands of people who should not have them, including violent offenders,” said Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of ATF’s Washington Field Division.

According to the Department statement, Project Guardian-DMV follows these five principles:

  • Coordinated prosecution;
  • Enforcing the background check system;
  • Improved information sharing;
  • Coordinated response to mental health denials; and
  • Crime gun intelligence coordination.

The “Coordinated response to mental health denials” includes the ability of U.S. Attorneys to recommend “court-ordered mental health treatment for any sentences issued to individuals prohibited based on mental health,” according to the Department statement.

“Project Guardian will allow us to identify specific incidents and trends, thereby enabling us to move quickly in investigating and prosecuting violent crime in the most appropriate venue,” said Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

“The correlation between the availability and use of illegal guns and violent crime is undeniable, and we will continue to work closely with our partners in the law enforcement community in the promotion of public safety and the pursuit of justice.”

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