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Federal Initiative Aims To Reduce Gun Violence, Better Enforce Gun Laws

The federal government announced a new initiative to both reduce gun violence and enforce national firearms laws. Part of the plan draws on existing strategies to curb gun violence.

Launched Wednesday by U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the program, dubbed ‘Project Guardian’, is a blend of tried and true measures along with new efforts to curb or prosecute gun violence.

The program announcement comes amid an ongoing debate about gun violence in the United States.

Project Guardian is based on several principles. Those include, but are not limited to, improving federal coordination with state, local and tribal law enforcement during prosecution of violent gun crimes. Authorities also vow a more aggressive crackdown on people who lie during background checks to obtain a firearm.

Montana’s U.S. Attorney Kurt Alme was unavailable for comment by deadline Wednesday, but a press release issued by his office says Project Guardian draws on earlier achievements, including the "Triggerlock" program, which expands federal prosecution of criminals who use firearms.

Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is another inspiration. That’s another nationwide U.S. Department of Justice initiative encouraging unprecedented cooperation and information sharing among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. PSN also aims to reduce demand for drugs like meth by developing substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.

In the year since PSN’s launch in May of 2018, Missoula County authorities say local murders, robberies and aggravated assaults dropped by almost 20 percent. Billings officials also credit the program with curbing violent crime in Yellowstone County.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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