Data Analysis: Many Gun Arrests, But Few Trials


LAS VEGAS (AP) - A data organization that evaluates the effectiveness of federal agencies says Nevada has a low rate of prosecuting firearms arrests on the federal level.

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, based at Syracuse University's School of Management, says Nevada officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had one of the highest rates of criminal referrals from 2003 to 2007 among all states. But the data says Nevada U.S. attorneys were in the bottom six for accepting those cases for prosecution.

U.S. Attorney Gregory Brower, who took office early this year, said he would not comment on the numbers.

"It's not a numbers game in my opinion," Brower said. "We try to take the best of the best cases, or the worst of the worst, depending on your perspective. And I certainly don't mean to knock the ATF, which does a great job, but as with any investigative agency, they're going to bring you a certain number of cases that you just can't take to trial."

In 2007, the U.S. attorney for Nevada declined 302 cases referred by the ATF and prosecuted 43, a 12% prosecution rate, the Syracuse group said. Nationally, 70% of such cases were prosecuted, the data said.

Former U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden, who worked in the office four of the five years studied, says the analysis must have misinterpreted statistics from Nevada from those years. He said the ATF and U.S. Attorney's Office have had good teamwork.

"It enabled us to take some very nasty, violent people who were carrying guns and put them in prison for a long time," Bogden said.

Bogden cited Project Safe Neighborhoods, a national program involving both agencies that uses ATF's position to get lengthy federal sentences for repeat felony offenders.

Bogden says cases rejected for federal prosecution during his time in office were prosecuted on the state level.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal,

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)